While the initial report into alleged abuse at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre in May did not include photos showing abuse, it included headshots of the alleged victims. After the incident, several detainees were moved to the prison. It is there where they allegedly sewed their mouths shut in protest. These photos of detainees -- Carlos Pupo Mendoza (left) and Jordan Berta Cautero (right) -- show detainees with wired mouths. They have since been repatriated, The Nassau Guardian understands.
By Candia Dames
Nassau Guardian News Editor
NASSAU, Bahamas -- Cuban detainees were severely beaten at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre in The Bahamas for almost two hours after they attempted to escape, and one even appeared to have temporarily lost consciousness as a result of the abuse, according to one of the marines interviewed as part of the initial investigation into the incident.
Witness statements from both guards and detainees are contained in the closely guarded report of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) dated July 19, 2013, The Nassau Guardian has exclusively revealed.
The Guardian has decided to withhold the names of the marines and detainees interviewed as part of the probe.
The beatings allegedly occurred after detainees attempted to escape from the facility on May 20.
The report contains explosive details of the abuse that allegedly occurred at the facility. A marine reported that detainees were sprayed with pepper spray in their eyes and wounds after the beatings.
They were then beaten some more, according to the marine.
One guard told investigators that another marine became concerned when one of the detainees briefly appeared to have lost consciousness, and he left the room where the beatings were taking place.
That marine reportedly remarked, “The young fellas went too far”. It was an apparent reference to some of the marines doing the beatings.
The report says that at the outset of the interview, one marine appeared angry and had established that he had a prior heated conversation with a leading seaman who is one of the investigators in the matter.
During that exchange, the marine threatened to report this individual to Member of Parliament Alfred Gray, “a personal associate of his”, says the report completed by the RBDF’s senior intelligence officer (SIO).
The marine also alleged that he had informed Minister of National Security Dr Bernard Nottage that Cuban detainees had informed him that one of the detainees had accused him of supplying cell phones to the detainees.
When questioned by the SIO as to how he came to be engaged in conversations with detainees about matters of national security, he became calm, possibly realizing that he had just admitted to committing a breach, the report says.
The marine suddenly became a willing participant in the interview and volunteered the following information, the report adds.
When questioned about cellular phones, he stated that he was aware and had seen two officers selling cell phones to the detainees.
However, he was not aware of defence force and immigration uniforms being given to detainees.
One marine stated that after the attempted escape sometime around 4:15 that morning, someone instructed him along with two other guards to escort three Cuban male detainees to the RBDF front guard house.
While en route to this location, several guards began violently beating the detainees in front of immigration officers.
The marine further stated that the mentioned detainees were taken into the very back room of the guard house, which contains barbells and other exercise equipment, where the beatings of the detainees continued by the majority of the members of the guard watch.
He stated that initially he held one of the detainees while another marine kicked and punched him (the detainee) and another marine hit him with a baton over the head, ears, hips and legs.
The marine stated that when blood from the detainee started to pour out he lost his composure and left the room.
Moments later, he heard another marine encouraging the young marines with use of words like “prove your manhood by punishing these detainees”.
After what appeared to be an hour, the detainees were dragged out of the guard house and placed near the fence opposite the guard house entrance.
It was at this point that a marine sprayed pepper spray into the eyes, wounds and bruises of the detainees.
This display was visible to all the remaining detainees -- the women, children and the men who were watching from outside their dorms.
Apparently, it was done to send a message to the wider group not to try escape, the report states.
A short time later, the detainees were taken back into the back room and the beatings were continued by other members of the watch.
It was at this point that a marine reportedly became concerned when one of the detainees briefly appeared to have lost consciousness and he left the room.
The marine stated that the beatings lasted almost two hours.
The marine further revealed that another marine came to him the night before the interview and said that this is the last straw, and that the command will seek to dismiss him due to his prior infractions and if he is not truthful about his actions about this incident.
The marine further asserts that the other marine wanted him to convey to the investigators that he is willing and wishes to speak candidly with them.
This report is the first real black and white glimpse into what allegedly transpired at the detention center back in May.
The claims have fueled a firestorm both locally and in Florida, where protestors have been agitating and demanding answers from the Government of The Bahamas.
The official opposition raised alarm on the issue during a press conference last week, calling on the government to provide details on the matter.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Fred Mitchell has said a retired Court of Appeal judge and a leading cleric are investigating the matter and that report will take at least another month.
The Nassau Guardian understands that the government intends to have a formal inquiry into this matter.
Republished with permission of the Nassau Guardian