28 years in prison: Murder convict still pleads innocence, presses for release
Hafeez Hussein had spent 19 years on death row at the Camp Street Prison in Georgetown before his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in 2012, giving him a second chance on life.
Nine years later the murder convict now has a second chance at freedom. He told the News Room recently that the Parole Board had recommended his release in February 2021.
After spending an accumulated 28 years behind bars for a crime he still claims he never did, Hussein is growing weary of spending more time there.
He is concerned that the recommendation is not being addressed by Minister of Home Affairs Robeson Benn.
The Minister is tasked with reviewing the recommendation and signing it into effect.
Hussein’s complaint is not isolated, with the family members of other inmates also complaining that the release recommendations from almost a year ago are yet to be signed.
Persons have been turning up at the Ministry’s Brickdam, Georgetown, location to seek an audience with Benn. He could not be reached for a response to these claims.
Hussein is now at the Lusignan facility having been transferred there after the 2017 fire at the Camp Street prison. He claims to be a well-behaved inmate and maintains his innocent 28 years later.
Hussein’s story is interesting.
He was arrested and charged with others for the September 1993 murder of Mibicuri, Black Bush Polder, resident Arnold Ramsammy who was shot during a home invasion.
Ramsammy was admitted to the hospital and died about four days after the incident; by this time four persons including Hussein and his brother were arrested.
By October 1994 they were committed to stand trial at the High Court.
Two years later, on March 26, 1996, Hafeez Hussain and another accused were condemned to death.
The two others were found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to two and three years’ imprisonment respectively.
What was strange about the convictions was that the eyewitnesses’ claimed that the perpetrators were three in number, two of African descent and one of East Indian descent, but the accused were all East Indian men.
The conviction was appealed the same year, but later dismissed.
With the involvement of the United Nations in 2012 then acting Chief Justice, the late Ian Chang, delivered a landmark decision when he commuted the death sentences to life in prison.
Hussain’s case was already regarded as a miscarriage of justice by hundreds who had previously signed a petition for his release.