Cyprus Mail

Inmate injured in Nicosia central prisons

File photo: Nicosia central prisons

A convict in the Central Prisons was injured while climbing a gate on Sunday and taken to the Nicosia General Hospital.

The prison guard branch of police union Isotita said it is preparing a list of grievances and proposals in light of this latest incident.

According to a department of prisons announcement, the incident occurred at approximately 1:50pm during yard time, when the inmate tried to climb a metal gate, as a result of which he sustained injuries from barbed wire to his abdomen.

Prison guards on duty reacted immediately, according to the statement, and he was transferred to the prison’s medical clinic, after which upon instruction of the medical officer he was transferred to hospital where his wounds were sutured and he was kept for observation.

The inmate’s state of health is reported as good, while the causes that led to the incident are being investigated.

Spokesman for Isotita prison guards union Giorgos Matthezou, speaking to CyBC radio on Monday, said the incident reflected long-standing problems in the state of the island’s prisons which are plagued by a combination of understaffing and over-population.

“It is impossible for two people, one chief guard and one officer, to be responsible for managing crowds of inmates of 100 and up,” the union rep said.

Matthezou added that it was proving extremely challenging to attract recruits to the prison guard service with a starting salary of €900 and the deplorable conditions as well as overtime hours expected.

“Last year 50 posts were opened up and announced and six people responded. Of those three have already quit,” the union rep said.

According to Matthezou, the island is the only state in Europe where guards’ offices are enclosed in a space together with the inmates.

“We have sounded the alarm for four years on these matters,” the prison guard rep said. “The buildings are old and outdated, and guards’ stations should be separated from the inmates.”

He further added that of the number of available guards, a third are assigned to bureaucratic duties, and that they should be shifted to the frontlines as a starting mechanism for coping with the skewed ratios.

A union meeting is to be held at 7pm on Monday to discuss and vote on proposals for taking immediate action, Matthezou said.

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