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Saskatchewan Penitentiary inmate charged in deadly riot pleads not guilty

An inmate from the medium security unit at the Saskatchewan Penitentiary has died, according to Correctional Service Canada.
One Saskatchewan Penitentiary inmate died when nearly 200 inmates in the medium-security unit rioted on Dec. 14, 2016. File / Global News

One of 14 men accused of taking part in a deadly riot at the Saskatchewan Penitentiary has pleaded not guilty to both charges.

Brett Babisky, 28, appeared Wednesday via video link in Prince Albert provincial court.

READ MORE: Report blames CSC for deadly Saskatchewan Penitentiary riot

Babisky is charged with rioting while masked and wearing a disguise with intent to commit an indictable offence; both carry a maximum sentence of 10 years under Canada’s Criminal Code.

He is to return to court Thursday to set a date for his trial.

John Linklater, 19, who is accused of destroying a surveillance camera, was granted bail earlier this month; he is return to court in December.

The 12 other accused are scheduled to appear in court Dec. 13 on charges of rioting, rioting while masked, wearing a disguise with intent, mischief over $5,000, and obstruction of justice.

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One inmate died and at least eight others were injured when nearly 200 inmates in the medium-security unit rioted on Dec. 14, 2016.

READ MORE: 14 charged in fatal riot at Saskatchewan Penitentiary

Inmates set fires and blocked doors with fridges, washers and dryers, broke windows and smashed walls.

The Office of the Correctional Investigator said the riot was probably triggered by unresolved complaints over food quality, portion size and lack of protein.

Correctional ombudsman Ivan Zinger said in his annual report released last month that there was also “perceived mistreatment of inmate kitchen workers” by Correctional Service of Canada staff.

He also said the size of prison cells may have played a role.

“Current research suggests that a lot must go wrong, and for quite some time, before a prison erupts in violence,” Zinger wrote.