Commissioner of Prisons Dennis Pulchan.

The Prisons Service has denied claims that a prisoner recently died as a result of being beaten, saying instead that he died from a heart attack associated with COVID-19.

Timothy Sonny, who was being held at the Maximum Security Prison in Arouca, died on July 28 after complaining of chest pain and vomiting.

Prisons officials have told Guardian Media that while Sonny was waiting to be assessed to go before the Prisons Medical Officer at the prison’s infirmary, he collapsed. He was taken to the Arima Health Facility where he was pronounced dead.

Commissioner of Prisons Dennis Pulchan said yesterday that Sonny was tested for COVID-19 post-mortem and there was a positive result.

Pulchan added that Sonny died from a heart attack, according to the autopsy results. He condemned claims that he was beaten.

“Misinformation and propaganda is a heck of a thing. It affects public confidence in the Prisons Service. Every time an inmate dies, it does not mean that he died because of an officer. This inmate died because of COVID-19 and had comorbidities that affected his heart that caused him to have a heart attack,” Pulchan said.

“So nobody didn’t beat the man as alleged,” Pulchan added.

Among those making the allegations was head of the Waajihatul Islaamiyyah (The Islamic Front) Umar Abdullah, who called for an immediate and independent investigation.

“The Islamic Front understands, fellow inmates are crying out for justice, they are alleging that a cover-up is already underway. It is reported that an investigation is continuing into the alleged beating death and investigators are due to visit the MSP facility and question his two cellmates,” Abdullah claimed in a statement.