Supreme court hearing underway over jail’s treatment of Michael Nehass

When Michael Nehass was brought naked to a video court appearance in January 2014 it made national news. For the first time yesterday, the 32-year-old had a chance to talk about what happened from his perspective.

When Michael Nehass was brought naked to a video court appearance in January 2014 it made national news.

For the first time yesterday, the 32-year-old had a chance to talk about what happened from his perspective.

He described being picked up by his leg shackles and handcuffs and brought through the segregation unit, onto an elevator, down multiple halls and into the room where he appeared on video.

Nehass took the stand as part of his hearing on whether the jail violated his rights by treating him this way and by keeping him segregated from general population for years.

Nehass testified that he was already naked in his cell when guards came and told him he had to go to court.

He was being punished, he said. Guards had taken away his clothes after he had destroyed his cell a few days earlier.

Nehass said he asked for clothes but the guards refused, offering him a blanket instead.

Nehass told the court he asked to speak to a superior and the guards left and came back with their shields.

After carrying him to the room with the video feed, one of the guards held his face down with a knee, Nehass said.

The hearing is expected to continue today and tomorrow and then resume for a second week at the end of February. Multiple people, including staff from the jail, are expected to testify.

Nehass calls what is happening to him at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre an “enforced disappearance.”

He insists his detention is part of a vast conspiracy by high-ranking officials across the Yukon intent on keeping him from revealing what he knows about human trafficking, missing and murdered aboriginal women and government corruption.

He is adamant that any efforts to make him seem mentally ill are meant to silence him.

In May 2014 a Yukon judge found Nehass unfit to stand trial. That decision was later reversed by the Yukon Review Board.

Nehass was arrested in December 2011. Documents filed in a different case suggest he has not been part of the jail’s general population since May 2013, instead bouncing between segregation and the jail’s secure living unit.

The two cells are basically the same thing, Nehass told the judge. He is completely isolated from anyone else. He has no meal time or yard time with other inmates. SLU cells usually have TVs, but he hasn’t had one for eight months, he said.

The jail has “yard boxes,” he said – small rooms with mesh as ceilings so inmates can get fresh air.

Nehass said he has gone “years” without getting yard time. It has gotten better, he said. But even now he only gets fresh air about once a week in the summer and three times a week in the winter, he said.

Nehass is adamant that he was sterilized in custody. He testified that he has the scars to prove it.

He said he believes the staff there have poisoned him on multiple occasions.

He testified he was so desperate to get a doctor to look at him that he swallowed fake razor blades so that he could go to the hospital.

He told the court that in November and December of last year, after going to the hospital for medical tests, he started feeling unwell. He believes doctors had sewn a cloth full of carcinogens into his stomach to try and kill him in custody, he said.

Because of that, he stopped eating, he said. He only consumed Boost, a liquid meal supplement.

Nehass testified he used aluminium off the Boost containers to create something that looked like blades and swallowed them in front of a guard.

After being taken to the hospital and examined with a scope he feels better, he said.

Contact Ashley Joannou at

ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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