(CLICK here to read extracts from the investigation )
By KHRISNA VIRGIL
Tribune Staff Reporter
A YOUNG Defence Force marine admitted that on the direction of superiors, he punched, kicked and beat unresisting Cuban detainees with a stick until they screamed, in what is described in official investigation documents as a “frenzied” attack at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre.
The officer (identified here as Officer 1; each of the officers questioned has been given a number, The Tribune having decided to withhold names pending the conclusion of the investigation) is one of four men who admitted to directly taking part in the beating – which they said happened while the victims were posing no physical threat whatsoever, according to investigators quoted in the documents.
(CLICK on the left image to view a timeline of events surrounding the detainees, with Fred Mitchell's statements)
In his confession about what happened on June 13, Officer 1 said following an escape attempt by Cuban detainees, Officer 4, his superior, told Officer 2, Officer 5 and himself to “Put something on them.”
“We then sat all the detainees in a room and then started striking them about their bodies,” he said.
“The tall Cuban male I was escorting earlier, I began hitting him about the upper body with my fist while he lay on the floor.”
“I moved over to the area, to (Officers 4 and 5), where they had another detainee restrained. While he sat on the floor as these marines held his arms down to his side of his body, I then began punching up this detainee about his body and chest area and he began to scream.
“From there, I moved to the third detainee who was the shortest of the three, who was lying on the floor and I began to kick him about the body and then I rest one of my feet on his neck.
“Shortly afterwards, I picked up a broom stick and returned to the first detainee I was restraining earlier and began to strike him about the body with a broom stick. After three strikes, the broom stick broke.
Officer 1 was one of seven officers interrogated about the incident.
Others told of detainees being kicked while on the floor and having mace sprayed in their faces.
“I was saddened, it was inhumane,” one said.
The victims were: Alexander Vasquez, Carlos Pupo and Yordan Contero. Vasquez told of his experience during a Miami talk show, the details of which were published in The Tribune on Wednesday.
Officer 1 told investigators that on one occasion, he saw another senior officer, Officer 3, strike a detainee with a baton.
On another instance, he said, Officer 3 beat docile detainees with a length of PVC pipe.
Three of those interviewed said Officer 3 was the most violent during the incident.
He, along with Officer 2 and Officer 4 – all older officers – refused to answer basic questions about the incident. Officer 2 initially co-operated, but then said he had been instructed by his attorney to decline comment.
Officer 5, another young officer, told how, after taking Cubans who they suspected of trying to escape over a barbed wire fence because of cuts and bruises on their hands, he took them to a guard house along with Officers 3 and 1, “and then we all began punching, kicking the detainees who were laid out on the floor.”
“Prior to us escorting the detainees to the guard house, (Officer 3) had taken a white coloured PVC pipe which was about arms length which he used to strike the detainees while they were outside the guard house.
“After about two minutes into the beating I left the guard room and went on the exterior southern side of the building. The reason I left the room was because I felt that the way (Officer 3) was striking the detainees started to affect me.
“The blows from the PVC pipe began to produce bruises and marks on the backs and parts of the detainees’ bodies.”
In their report, the investigators said the testimony of the statements by detainees of what they suffered is “consistent with the confessions of four of the suspects (marines) in this matter . . . the marines admit that at no time were the detainees a threat to them while in their custody at the guard house, yet they still inflicted violent beatings on them.”