Most of escaped inmates back in Indonesian prison

PEKANBARU (Indonesia) • Indonesian security forces have rounded up most of the inmates who escaped during a mass breakout from an overcrowded prison on Sumatra island, police said yesterday.

More than 200 inmates broke out of the jail in Pekanbaru city, on Sumatra island, after they were let out of their cells to pray on Friday. Almost 80 were quickly recaptured after the incident and, yesterday, the majority were rounded up.

"So far, 209 inmates have been recaptured or surrendered willingly, many have returned to their cells," said local police spokesman Guntur Aryo Tejo, adding that the authorities did not have the exact number of inmates still on the loose.

Amateur footage broadcast on local TV stations showed scores of men, some wearing sarongs, scurrying through the gates of the Sialang Bungkuk prison on Friday, with no sign of officials in pursuit. Most prisoners were recaptured while still near Pekanbaru.

Dozens of the escaped inmates headed directly to another prison where they handed themselves in.

The male-only prison has a capacity of 300 people but was holding 1,870 inmates, with only five guards and a porter on duty at any one time, said director-general of prisons I Wayan Dusak.

Mr Tejo said the inmates told the police they decided to escape because of inhumane conditions in the prison.

The male-only prison has a capacity of 300 people but was holding 1,870 inmates, with only five guards and a porter on duty at any one time, said director-general of prisons I Wayan Dusak.

More than a thousand inmates who did not escape the prison were refusing to return to their cells unless the head guard was replaced.

Jailbreaks are common in Indonesia, where inmates are held in often unsanitary conditions at overcrowded prisons. There was a spate of breakouts in 2013, including one where about 150 prisoners - including terror convicts - escaped from a jail on western Sumatra island.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 07, 2017, with the headline 'Most of escaped inmates back in Indonesian prison'. Print Edition | Subscribe