Written by Zulfick Farzan
30 Nov, 2020 | 11:38 am
Mahara Prison Riots :
Colombo (News 1st); 08 prisoners have died in the Mahara Prison Riots while 50 other prisoners were injured, confirmed Deputy Police Chief Ajith Rohana to News 1st on Monday (30).
Two Prison Officers were injured and one of them is in critical condition, said the Police Spokesperson.
An argument between remand prisoners at the Mahara Prison and Prison Officer had sparked the riots on Sunday (29), after remand prisoners demanded they be released following the spread of COVID-19 within the prison.
The Police Spokesperson said, COVID-19 was used as a front by the prisoner for other objectives adding a prisoner can only be released by a court or a pardon and Prison Officers are not authorized to grant the requests of the prisoners.
The unrest had turned into a riot and thereafter the prisoners had managed to pull-down the protective fence and made an attempt to escape, said the Police Spokesperson adding it was at that moment Prison Officers were compelled to use force to prevent any break-out.
In the first instance, one prisoner was killed and three others were injured and following occasional use of force, as of 11:00 AM on Monday (30), 08 prisoners were killed in the riots.
The Police Spokesperson said according to the Prison Officers, two of their colleagues were held hostage by the remand prisoners and were rescued following a valiant effort by the authorities.
The prisoners at the Mahara Prison have set fire and caused damage to property, he said.
Sri Lanka Police as well as the Police Special Task Force have set up a perimeter around the Mahara Prison and are in a position to assist in controlling the situation.
The Police Spokesperson also said aerial surveillance was carried out over the prison premises on Monday (30) morning.
Senior DIG of the Western Province Deshabandu Tennakoon speaking to reporters following an inspection at the site on Monday (30) said the situation is completely under control adding, the bodies of the victim as well as the injured were removed from the Mahara Prison.
Most of the prisoners had broken into the prison infirmary and consumed various medications and are in a state of intoxication, said the DIG.
He said all prisoners exposed to COVID-19 will be taken out for treatment while those who were granted bail will be moved for mandatory quarantine.
In addition, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa will preside over a meeting to discuss the situation at the Mahara Prison.
The Ministry of Prisons said the Ministers of Justice and Prisons, the Commanders of the Armed Forces, IGP and Ministry Secretaries were summoned to the meeting.
Information obtained by investigators revealed a prison break attempt by all prisoners at the Mahara Prison.
State Minister of Prison Reforms & Prisoners’ Rehabilitation Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle said the violence at the prison is being investigated.
She said around 3200 prisoners are held at the Mahara Prison and based on the information a mass break-out was planned by them adding over recent weeks there were escape attempts across several prisons in the country.
The State Minister said there is information that suggest prison officers are also involved and said the riots are being investigated.
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