Monday, March 7, 2005

Youth 'murdered for officers' pleasure'

Zahid Mubarek, Murdered by a racist, failed by a racist system

UK: An Asian teenager was murdered by a white racist after they were placed in the same cell as part of a game to fulfil the "perverted pleasure" of prison officers, a public inquiry heard on Friday.

Duncan Keys, the assistant general secretary of the Prison Officers' Association (POA), said that 19-year-old Zahid Mubarek was killed because warders at Feltham Young Offender Institution in west London "thought it would be funny to see what would happen when they put a young Asian lad in with someone who wanted to kill Asians."

Mr Keyes named Nigel Herring, the chairman of the Feltham branch of the POA at the time Mubarek was killed, as the "instigator" of a game called "gladiator" or "coliseum", which involved pitting inmates against one another and betting on which one would win in a fight.

White inmates would be placed with black prisoners, large prisoners with small, and bullies would be placed together in a bid to spark conflict. MrHerring thought the game as "funny" and laughed about it, Mr Keys told the inquiry.

He said: "I had gone to the general secretary and the deputy general secretary of my own union and I had told them of my deep concerns and the information I had. I was subsequently told to shut up."

Fearing his union would do nothing, Mr Keys made an anonymous phone call to the Commission for Racial Equality in May 2004, saying that Mubarek was killed as a result of the game. He also alerted senior prison officer officials about the practice, including the director general of the Prisons Service, Phil Wheatley.

Mr Keys said: "I believed that a cover up was taking place. I was just desperate to kickstart an inquiry, a serious inquiry into the information that I had been given."

Police investigated his claim but brought no charges. In his July 2004 police interview the prison officer told detectives he believed the game amounted to "a conspiracy to murder".

Mr Keys admitted he had no direct evidence linking Mubarek's murder to the gladiator-style fights.

He had heard this from Tom Robson, a POA national executive committee member with responsibility for Feltham in 2000. He added that the practice was well known by senior union officials.

Mubarak died seven days after he was beaten by his cellmate, Robert Stewart, in March 2000. Stewart, now 24, was later jailed for life for murder.

By injustice posted 7 March 05


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