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Prison CP - March 2000

Corpun file 8723 at

Amandala Online, Belize City, 19 March 2000

Two prisoners tamarind whipped

BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Mar. 16 -- The silence among the inmates at the Hattieville "Ramada," normally an irreverent, raucous place, was almost eerie this afternoon when the first of two inmates was dragged, "kicking, fighting and cursing," to a room in the main administration building where corporal punishment was administered for the first time in two and a half decades.

On Monday, February 28, the Board of Visiting Justices, exercising its authority under Chapter 110 of the Laws of Belize (Prison Rules), recommended that Nehru Smith be administered 12 lashes with a tamarind whip after being found guilty of stabbing fellow inmate Nelson Young. The incident occurred on January 29, 2000. Smith reportedly laughed in the face of the Visiting Justices when the sentence was pronounced on him.

Smith had previously stabbed an inmate, Broaster, and last week, cursed Chief Magistrate Lord in court.

Inmate Bert Elijio was brought before the Board of Visiting Justices on Wednesday, March 15, for chopping another inmate, Paul Ysaguirre, with a machete. The incident occurred in February, 2,000. The Board recommended 6 lashes with a tamarind whip.

Today, Thursday, March 16, the Board of Visiting Justices again visited the prison, this time to hear the case of inmate Juan Alvarez, who pleaded guilty to stabbing an inmate, David Sanz Yearwood, in the throat with a "half machete." The incident took place yesterday, Wednesday.

This afternoon, prison authorities began to carry out the sentences on inmates Nehru Smith and Bert Elijio. To minimize interaction and/or interference from the prisoners, the compound was cleared at 2:00 p.m. All the prisoners were locked down, an hour earlier than their normal lock-down time.

At about 4:00 p.m., Nehru Smith was forcibly escorted to the punishment room by four wardens. Cursing, shouting and fighting, Smith was subdued and strapped to a "whipping horse," a relic from the past made specially for the purpose, and lashed 12 times with a tamarind whip.

Shortly after, a struggling Bert Elijio, who repeatedly called on "Jah" in his moment of stress, was escorted by a number of wardens from his cell to the room of punishment. He received 6 lashes, and was escorted back to his cell amid a silence never before heard at the prison compound.

During the administering of the punishment to the inmates, medical personnel were present in the room, as is stipulated by law, as were senior personnel of the Department of Corrections.

The last time a prisoner was whipped was reportedly in 1975. David Henry, convicted of raping a wardmaid, was given 15 lashes, and before him, an inmate by the name of Ysaguirre, convicted of beating and raping a Mennonite girl, was given 12 lashes.

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