A republican prisoner has sustained multiple injuries in what was described as a “savage” attack by prison warders at Maghaberry Prison.
Tony Taylor, a leading member of the Republican Network for Unity (RNU) was being taken to Derry Courthouse, where supporters had been hopeful he would be released at a court hearing due to a lack of evidence to hold him.
But as he was about to leave the prison, a ‘strip search’ turned into a severe beating at the hands of warders, and he was left with broken bones in his hand and wrist.
An eight-strong prison riot team are understood to have smashed his face into the side of a prison van, and held him down while he was kicked and punched. His handcuffed hands were twisted up his back, leaving him with broken bones in his hand and wrist.
As he was being taken to a hospital, and despite his injuries and considerable pain, he was again subjected to a forced strip-search.
Members of the RNU believe the beating was a vindictive response to a fatal gun attack against prison warder David Black last week, and timed to ensure that Mr Taylor would not be released.
“It is our belief that prison officers were aware that Tony was on the verge of release; the day of his last hearing coincided with the death of David Black and on that occasion anger on the faces of prison officers surrounding Tony was apparent.
“RNU were concerned from that point on that Tony would bear the brunt of their aggression.
“This morning it appears that Maghaberry staff did in fact take their aggression out on a lone, vulnerable protesting prisoner, and as a result he was denied the opportunity to face court and gain his rightful freedom.
“RNU again call for an immediate end to barbaric Strip Searching procedures in Maghaberry prison, and for the release of Tony Taylor.”