By Taylor MacPherson
Criminal charges have been laid against four federal inmates for their alleged roles in a deadly riot at the Saskatchewan Penitentiary in Prince Albert late last year.
On Dec. 14, nearly 200 inmates rioted in the penitentiary’s medium-security wing causing extensive damage to the facility. A representative with the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers said the inmates were dissatisfied with the food quality and portion sizes, and during the riot fires were set, windows were smashed and portions of the institution were flooded.
Correctional Service Canada said three inmates were assaulted by the rioters, leading to the death of 43-year-old prisoner Jason Leonard Bird.
The prison’s emergency response team opened fire on the rioters with shotguns while storming the barricades to retake the unit, causing non-life-threatening injuries to a further six inmates.
Julius Beardy, John Linklater, Josh McLaren and Larry Windigo all appeared in Prince Albert Provincial Court Wednesday facing criminal charges in connection to the riot.
All four are charged with participation in a riot, which carries a maximum sentence of two years.Beardy, McLaren and Windigo are also charged with wearing a mask with intent to commit an indictable offence.
Finally, Linklater, McLaren and Windigo are accused of committing mischief by damaging property valued over $5,000 as well as obstructing justice by obscuring security cameras inside the prison.
All four men appeared in court over video link from the facilities where they are held. While McLaren and Linklater are still at the penitentiary in Prince Albert, Beardy appeared from the maximum-security wing of the Edmonton Institution and Windigo appeared from the Regional Psychiatric Centre in Saskatoon.
None of the men had lawyers representing them, and all the matters were therefore adjourned until October to give the accused rioters time to secure counsel.