Did Dean Bristol hang himself in prison or what?

Conflicting reports have emerged about the death of an inmate at the Montagne Posee prison on Saturday 17th October. A young man Dean Bristol was according to official reports broadcasted over state media, found dead from hanging in a cell at the prison at about 3 p.m. on Saturday. The prison authorities stated that he was in a special cell also known as a ‘dry cell’ and that the previous day he had an altercation with another convict and was expected to have a session with the superintendent of prison on the day he was found dead. Prisons Superintendent Raymond St.Ange said that prisoners are sent to the special cell for various reasons.

“It could be they are sent there while we deal with a situation which has arisen, or as a punishment, or even for their own security,” he said.

St.Ange told SBC that after Bristol’s death was discovered there was some unrest and a lot of anger among the prison population as the latter had many friends but he denied any riot. He also said that some prisoners had expressed their desire to give their statements about what had taken place and that he had made provisions for this to take place on Sunday morning.

Sunday morning, despite all attempts by this newspaper, the Superintendent of prison could not be reached by telephone. In the meantime we had received what seemed to be part of an official statement of which the contents do not necessarily tally with the report given to SBC.

The leaked document informs that Bristol, an ex-soldier, was a recidivist and has been in prison for robbery and non-compliance with the Family Tribunal’s orders. It does not state what he was convicted for this time.

The thread of the information in the documents points to an altercation between Bristol and a Tanzanian prison guard, which led to him being locked up in the dry cell. The official information does not mention this.

According to the document leaked to this newspaper, Dean Bristol had gone with a team of prisoners to work outside the prison as part of their rehabilitation activities. The following quote is translated from the original which is in Creole:

“Friday morning, the convict Dean Bristol as usual left with other prisoners to go to work at the port at IPHS. When they returned in the evening, Dean came back to the prison with a fish and went through the usual formalities and search procedures. Dean and the other prisoners left the search room and moved towards their respective section. When they got to the male block near Dean’s cell, there were two Tanzanian and one Seychellois prison guards at the gate. One of the Tanzanian guards tried to pull the fish away from Dean and stop him from entering with it into the male block. Dean persisted and the guard slapped him hard and he hit his head against the wall. The other convicts who were present intervened to stop the fight and the guard was able to pull Dean outside, beat him up and lock him up in the dry cell.”

“ Vandredi bomaten , Kondannen Dean Bristol parey labitid ti 2sann avek lezot Kondannen pou al travay Lasose kot I.P.H.S , kan zot ti trounen son aswar Dean ti mont avek en Pwason kot Prizon parey zot labit e fer bann prosedir lafouy . Dean ek lezot Kondannen ti kit SearchRoom e ti bouze pou antre dan zot seksyon respektiv . Anarivan kot MaleBlock kot kaso Dean ti ete la lo Baro ti annan 2 Gard Tannzanyenn ek 1 Gard Seselwa , 1enn sa Gard Tannzanyenn ti ris son Pwason e sey anpes li antre dan MaleBlock avek e Dean ti persiste la kot sa Gard ti tap li en kalot e i ti tap son latet dan miray . Lezot Kondannen ki ti la prezan ti enterfer pou anpes lager e Gard ti reisi ris Dean 2or bat li e al tak li dan DryCell …”

The same document claims that on Saturday morning the Superintendent of prisons came to the prison and took away two convicts for home visit. It further states that this was captured on the institution’s CCTV camera. According to the documents we have received this was after 2.30 p.m.

The question that begs, is why did Bristol bring a fish back to the prison? Is it allowed, was it a raw fish or a cooked one and how come he was taking it into his cell? The next question which follows on is; if he had gone through search procedures and had been able to go through to the male block, why then did the guard try to stop him from taking the fish in with him? Was he really beaten up? Are guards at a liberty to decide to put someone in a dry cell?

The second document adds even more mystery to the case. The official report is that the convict hung himself. This document states that (again translating from Creole):

Parey labitid zot ti alert kanmarad lo Radio e fer lezot koleg okouran ki Sirentandan pe antre kot Prizon, ler ekzakt ti anviron 2er edmi sote . En Gard Nepale byen koni kot Prizon koman Tengo 1, ti pran bwat manze ki ti sipoze donn Dean 2pi midi ti al avek kot DryCell e la i ti war Dean ater pa pe bouze, me non pa anpandan. Asa moman Sirentandan tin fini ariv anler kot SearchRoom e sa Gard Nepale ti taye e met zot tou ki ti la prezan kwa ki in war. Apre ki Sirentandan tin al get pou li menm i ti donn lord pou fer tou Kondannen ki ti pe travay lo Compound Prizon antre dan zot kaso e bann Gard ti gany dir fer kwar ki Dean i ankor pe respire e zot pe al anmenn li Lopital ..

“As usual they alerted each other over the radio and let each other know that the Superintendent had entered the prison. It was past 2.30 p.m. A Nepalese guard well known within the prison as Tengo1 took the lunch box he was supposed to have given Dean Bristol at 12 noon and went with it to the dry cell and there he saw Dean inside on the floor. He was not moving, but he was not hanging.  At that time the Superintendent had already arrived at the search room and the Nepalese guard ran and told everyone who was present there what he had seen.

After the Superintendent went to look for himself he gave the order that all prisoners who were working in the compound, to go back into their cells.”

At this point the author of the document make a very serious allegation which we omit. The ensuing information again contrast heavily with what was officially released.

“Kondannen ti kasyet e gany sans war Dean ki tin fini mor dan DryCell, son Latet ti Anfle , Disan dan so Lizye , Lalang tin koupe e osi Anfle , Lestoman ti ble avek Disan par plas , Lekim dan Labous , Lipye dwart anfle”

“The convicts hid and were able to see Dean who was already dead in the dry ell. His head was swollen, there was blood on his eyes, and his tongue had been cut and was also swollen. His stomach was blue with blood in some places. He was foaming at the mouth his right leg was swollen.”

While a swollen tongue and foaming at the mouth are consistent with results of hanging, the other details raise eyebrows and lend confusion to what really happened to Dean Bristol. If he had hung himself how come he was on the floor, if what is stated is true!

The incident takes more twists and turns when one considers the next document which points out a very valid fact which journalist are aware of. There are cameras installed in the dry cell!

… Dan DryCell en kondannen i gany mete pou gany pini, dan ka Dean pa ti en leksepsyon, dan DryCell i okipe avek Camera, avan antre ou gany fouye e retir tou danze lo ou, tou ou mouvman i gany moniter e si en Kondannen i pran en lakord pou anmar anler avek lentansyon pou pann, Camera pou war e la sa ki pe obzerve dan CameraRoom i kapab alert Gard lo teren ouswa reste trankil konmsi tou keksoz i korek e les en Kondannen pann.

“A prisoner is put in the dry cell as a punishment. In Dean’s case it was no exception. The dry cell is equipped with c.c.tv camera and when you enter it you are searched and any dangerous object is removed from your possession. The camera will pick up what is going on in the cell and the one who is observing in the camera room and he can alert the guards on the ground or remain quiet as if everything is just fine and let a convict hang himself!”

According to the document, the ensuing disturbance among the prisoners was not a small unrest and that the guards were unable to contain them for quite a while. They claim that Bristol was left on the ground for quite a while before his corpse was removed and that it took the Superintendent a long time to calm the inmates down.

On Sunday morning the superintendent did as he said and went back to the prison to talk to the inmates. There are reports that the situation was still volatile and that the inmates wanted to attack the Tanzanian guards. Other reports say the Tanzanian guards were all removed from the prison except for the one who works in the administration office. In linking the Tanzanian guard to the death of Bristol one document alleges that he was late to take up duty that time and when he did his uniform was in a mess and he was sweating profusely. They claim that unlike his usual self, he offered inmates a cigarette in exchange for a small puppy.

The Independent is unable as yet to validate the account of the incident as detailed in that report. It is in no way insinuating that the official report is false, but simply putting across other information which have emerged in our research on the incident.

The fact that there are cameras in the dry cell is a matter which the Superintendent of Prisons should explain. The media was told these would be installed after a previous incident in which an inmate attempted suicide. If it is there, was it functioning, was there someone monitoring and did anyone see what happened or is there a recording of the incident? All these are pertinent questions. Unfortunately the Superintendent of Prisons did not answer our reporter’s various telephone calls throughout Sunday!