National Security Minister, Hermangild Francis, has raised questions about the opposition by the Saint Lucia National Trust (SLNT), to the demolition of the building on upper Bridge Street that housed the Castries prison.
The SLNT on Sunday got the High Court to issue an order to halt the demolition and other works on the site.
“For the almost 20 years that the prison was there being used for all sorts of illegal activity, I mean when persons actually had to go in there to cut the bush and everything, you had to use water boots because of the amount of filth and human excreta and other things that were there and if the trust had any interest in that building, why wait until something is actually being done to the building to come forward?” Francis stated.
“It is very, very strange. I don’t know their motive, but I think this is the best place and the police deserve a proper police headquarters,” the former Deputy Police Commissioner asserted.
He explained that two buildings on the site will be preserved.
Francis recalled that head of the R.G Group of Companies, Rayneau Gajadhar, did some work on one of the buildings but because of the age of the structure, there was some water seepage.
“There was talk of demolishing that one but Mr. Gajadher has come forward and indicated that he does not mind spending any amount of money to keep the facade of that building.”
The minister said he would be happy if the facade of the two buildings could be kept, as the buildings have “some history.”
“But the prison, what is the history of the prison? Criminals who raped our women and killed our women and were hanged?” Francis said.
“Our intention is to build a brand new spanking police headquarters which I think the police officers deserve, so that the traffic department, the CID and everybody can get a home. There will be facilities where police officers can get some training, relaxation – that sort of thing and the second thing is to build a Hall of Justice for the criminal courts.”
“We talk about justice and access to justice and when the government is now putting a courthouse where we are going to have at least the criminal division to be held, then you get that sort of fight back and it is really depressing,” Francis said Thursday.
On Wednesday the Police Welfare Association (PWA) called on the ‘powers that be’ to allow the building that housed the prison on upper Bridge Street in Castries to be torn down.