Woolwich suspect ‘targeted repeatedly’ by ‘hostile’ prison guards
Jeremiah Adebolajo lodges formal complaint following claims officers knocked brother Michael’s teeth out when they ‘smashed his head against a window’
Sunday 21 July 2013
Woolwich murder suspect Michael Adebolajo has been targeted repeatedly by prison officers, and was pushed against a window in an alleged attack which knocked out two of his teeth, his younger brother claimed yesterday.
Jeremiah Adebolajo, 26, said that he spoke to his brother nearly every day, and that they had written correspondence, all of which said that members of the Prison Service had been “very hostile towards him”.
Speaking to the BBC and the Observer, Jeremiah said: “These guys targeted him. They were waiting for the opportunity to do him over.” He added that the abuse could only really come from guards, because his brother is in category A solitary confinement, never meeting other prisoners.
Five staff at Belmarsh Prison, where Adebolajo, 28, is being held on suspicion of murdering Drummer Lee Rigby, were suspended on full pay after the incident on Wednesday.
Jeremiah said the alleged assault involved officers pushing his brother’s head against a window when he was already restrained, adding: “I wonder why it took five prison officers to restrain one man and how in the course of that restraint his teeth were able to be knocked out.”
He said: ““They decided to twist his arm back... the arm that had been shot.... He manoeuvred out of that so they smashed his head against a window.”
Following the alleged attack, Adebolajo’s brother claims the prisoner was denied immediate medical treatment - meaning the teeth could not be put back in. The Ministry of Justice refutes this claim, with a spokesperson telling the Observer the 28-year-old refused help initially, before he “was subsequently treated by healthcare staff”.
Jeremiah said the frequency of abuse against his brother had concerned the family for some time, but that they only decided to speak out now because of the severity of the incident on Wednesday. He told the BBC he had spoken to Adebolajo’s lawyer, and to the governor of Belmarsh, and that a formal complaint had been lodged.
Earlier the chairman of the Prison Officers Association, Peter McParlin, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that he was confident the five suspended staff would be “exonerated”.
He said: “We have spoken to our members and on the basis of what our members have told us they have done absolutely nothing wrong.” He said that while staff followed correct restraint procedures, which are designed to minimise injuries to all parties, “sometimes there are unforeseen consequences in any violent incident”.
He also hit out at the Ministry of Justice for “over-reacting” because of the notoriety of the prisoner, and criticised it for failing to do more to correct “sensationalist” and “false” reporting of the incident.
Metropolitan Police spokesman said: “We can confirm that an allegation of assault was passed to the Metropolitan Police Service on 17 July by Belmarsh prison. An investigation has been started. The Prison Service said it would be inappropriate to comment while that investigation was ongoing.
Adebolajo is accused together with Michael Adebowale, 22, of hacking Lee Rigby to death near Woolwich Barracks in south-east London on 22 May. The pair are due to stand trial at the Old Bailey on November 18.
Rigby was a machine gunner and ceremonial drummer serving with the 2nd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.
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