HC Deb 08 March 1889 vol 333 cc1272-4
SIR R. FOWLER (London)

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has received information as to a coroner's inquest held at Free Town, Sierra Leone, on February 1st last, on the body of the Chief, Gabanna Gombo, brought as a political prisoner from the Gallinas country, who died on January 26th; whether he is aware that it was alleged before the jury that the prisoner died of strangulation, having during four days been tied round the neck and other parts of his body with a rope, on the excuse that no handcuffs were available, and that the jury were only persuaded to pass a verdict of "death resulting from blood poisoning, the effect of ill-usage," on the coroner's promise that the facts of the case should be reported to the authorities with a recommendation that the police officers in charge of the prisoner be brought to justice; whether any action is being taken in accordance with this compromise; and whether he can acquaint the House with the circumstances under which a native chief who has for a long time been an ally of the British Government in its advances in the West Coast of Africa has been thus severely dealt with.


This chief, who cannot correctly be styled a political prisoner, was conveyed as a prisoner to Sierra Leone, having been guilty of marauding and raiding a short time after he had been present at a meeting of chiefs when they were warned that such practices must cease. We have not heard officially of the inquest; but the Governor has reported the chief's death, owing to blood poisoning, in consequence of a wound caused by the rope with which he was secured. This treatment is very much to be regretted; and the Governor has issued a strict order to the police that as a rule handcuffs only should be used, and that when it is unavoidable to tie prisoners, great care should be taken that no injury or undue harshness is permitted; and that any remissness will be severely dealt with.

DR. CLARK (Caithness)

Has anything been done to the police officers who dragged the man along with a rope; have they been suspended and tried, or are they still at work and in full pay?

MR. PICTON (Leicester)

When the right hon. Gentleman says that an independent chief has been guilty of marauding, does he mean that the man was guilty of making war?


I cannot give a definition of marauding.

MR. WINTER BOTHAM (Gloucester, Cirencester)

Will the right hon. Gentleman make inquiries as to what has been done to the policemen?


May I call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the third paragraph of the question, which he has not answered?


I have given an answer. I said I have not heard of the inquest officially; until I do I cannot give the hon. Member any further information.