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Dec 14, 2017

No Cover-Up of Prison Rape, C.E.O. Claims

We’ve been reporting on a case of alleged sodomy inside the Belize Central Prison. An inmate, who is now out on bail, claims he was sodomized twice last month while he was locked up in the prison. The alleged perpetrator is another inmate, Kenroy Cooke, who was charged on Wednesday with two counts of unnatural crime and one count of harm.  C.E.O. Virgilio Murillo has confirmed that the matter was reported and immediate action was taken, including isolating the attacker and notifying the police. But since then, the victim and his family have come forward to make allegations against the prison – specifically against guards and wardens who work there. Today, we spoke with Murillo and asked him to respond to the allegations that the victim made. He told us that Cooke has been in and out of prison for crimes of dishonesty and considered a low risk criminal.

Kenroy Cooke

He was put on lock-down for not adhering to prison rules. The alleged victim, who is also a low risk criminal, was placed on lock-down because he had physically attacked another prisoner.  C.E.O. Murillo said that there is no record or history of sexual assault or rape committed by Cooke in or out of prison. In our interview, C.E.O. Murillo refutes a claim of a cover-up and says that the prison absolutely doesn’t punish prisoners through sexual assaults as the victim’s family claims. 

 

Virgilio Murillo

Virgilio Murillo, C.E.O., Kolbe Foundation

“I want to say that an act took place and there is no such thing as the prison trying to cover up anything or trying to hide anything. I will maintain that I did not think that I wanted to publicize it; but publicizing something and hiding something, in my mind, are two different things. And if we were hiding it, then I believe I personally would not have called the police. I was the person that made that call to the police because it is something that I will not allow to slide in the prison.   Definitely a criminal act, in my mind, occurred and I think I did what I needed to have done as the Superintendent which was to get the police involved and I did exactly that. So, I just wanted to start off with that. How the parents went about saying how things happen is totally untrue, as a matter of fact, I granted them an opportunity to come and see the boy, so that they could have satisfied themselves that there was nothing wrong with the boy other than what had happened. They had a discussion with the hierarchy of the security department. We have all of that video recorded.  We are very much focus on what our role is as a prison and any prison that is keen on trying to attain the objectives as set out by the international conventions that has to do with prisoners would not practice something like that; you would have to be totally crazy to do something like that, so that is the farthest thing from the truth and we have the video that will prove that when the time comes.”

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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