8th November

The Prisoner X

Last week, with Dr Z, I went to visit the prisoner X. Dr Z had been appointed the prisoner X’s physician, and I his legal adviser.

We were shown into an interview room containing four metal chairs. One chair was removed and a guard sat on it outside the door, which was left open.

The prisoner X was brought in. Dr Z examined him. He had bruising and lacerations to his face and upper body, and the left eye was swollen and half closed. Dr Z cleaned and dressed the wounds. He recommended that the eye be properly examined at the prison hospital.

The prisoner X said he would rather go blind than attend the prison hospital.

I asked him how he had received his injuries. He said he had been beaten several times since his arrival nineteen days earlier.

I asked if other prisoners were responsible. He said he had not recognised his attackers.

I asked if he thought that the beatings had been sanctioned by the prison authorities. He said that since this would be against the law he did not see how it could be possible.

I asked if he knew what charges were to be brought against him. He said he did not expect any charges to be brought against him and that he would be released in two days’ time.

I asked why. He said this was what had happened on three previous occasions. Legally nobody could be held without charge for more than twenty-one days, therefore he expected to be released.

I asked if his previous legal advisers had complained about this repeated abuse of his rights. He said that of his previous legal advisers one was on holiday abroad, one was seriously ill and one was dead.

Dr Z said it was time to leave.

The prisoner X was removed. The fourth chair was returned to the interview room. We were escorted from the prison.

Dr Z recommended I take a holiday abroad at the earliest opportunity, for the sake of my health.

Two days later I telephoned Dr Z from the airport to ask whether the prisoner X had been released without charge.

There was no answer.

Reader: Kirstin McLean
Fiddle: Aidan O'Rourke
Subscribe here for more stories & music