A 42-year-old inmate was hospitalised with second degree burns on Monday after another inmate threw boiling water at him in Nicosia’s central prison.
Reports said it followed an argument which had occurred after the 42-year-old had warned officers during his transfer to the prison that he would be at risk if placed in the same wing with the alleged perpetrator
The justice ministry said in a statement it had appointed an investigator to look into the incident.
The investigator will look into whether the victim’s warnings had been taken into consideration as well as the circumstances of the incident.
The ministry condemned the act, stressing that it was an isolated incident that did not reflect the entire correctional facility, which has provenly “made strides in terms of modernisation and respect of human rights”.
The statement also took a shot at the opposition for criticising the central prison, saying things could not possibly change from one moment to the next.
“Unfortunately, the same pattern continues with some people trying to exploit incidents that are horrible and some are plainly condemnable, but unforeseen,” the ministry said.
It said main opposition Akel had used the latest incident, as well as the deaths of two other people recently – one died from heart attack, the other choked on his vomit – in a bid to belittle the improvements at the prison.
“At the same time, Akel has deleted from memory the inaction and cover-ups of the tortures and inhuman acts during their administration, which humiliated human dignity and personality.”
But the ministry’s statement irked prison guards who protested over the way they were being treated.
In their own statement, prison guards said the incident took place in wing 10 where inmates with mental problems were held and no one had told them the two had any differences.
“During the personal interview upon his arrival at the prison, the inmate in question did not — nor did his family with whom there was a telephone contact – mention having differences with any inmate.”
The guards expressed their “displeasure” at the way they were treated by the ministry, especially since they had to dispense medication to the inmates instead of qualified medical staff, as noted by the Council of Europe.
The statement said prison staff would continue to do their work professionally despite serious staff shortages, but warned of measures if their grievances continued to fall on deaf ears.