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Saturday, February 11, 2006
Benschop still refusing to eat - prison monitoring his health

Mark Benschop is now into his fifth day of refusing food, which his wife Maria Benschop says is as a result of him fearing for his safety.

She said her husband has refused to eat his meals since he is not allowed to view them being handed over to the orderly. This was allowed for two days then it was stopped.

Maria Benschop maintains that her husband cannot see clearly the movements of the orderly from the time the man collects the food from her to when it reaches him. Mark Benschop said he would not eat until this is done, she said yesterday.

Meanwhile Director of Prisons Dale Erskine said he would not change his position on the issue. Erskine told Stabroek News that the two days that Mark Benschop was able to view his meals were not authorised. Erskine admitted that in the past prisoners were given this treatment during their stay at the prison but said this did not make it right.

He said prisoners could not tell prison authorities how to carry out their operations adding that there was a limit on compromise.

He reiterated that it was the prison authorities' responsibility to ensure the safety of prisoners in their custody and if that safety would be compromised in any way then they would act. It was disclosed that health personnel at the prisons were checking Mark Benschop and if his health declined, a doctor would be called in. The prison also has the option of force-feeding him, the director said, but this would only be done upon recommendation of a doctor. The doctor would also have to recommend the method for this type of feeding. (Nicosia Smith)

Stabroek News