Indonesia to probe jail break as 150 inmates remain on the run

Prisoners who had escaped from the Sialang Bungkuk jail in Pekanbaru, on Indonesia's Sumatra island, on May 6, 2017.
Prisoners who had escaped from the Sialang Bungkuk jail in Pekanbaru, on Indonesia's Sumatra island, on May 6, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS/ANTARA FOTO

JAKARTA (REUTERS) - Indonesia has launched an investigation into accusations of mistreatment by prison guards, after around 350 inmates broke out of an overcrowded jail on Sumatra island in Riau Province last week, an official said on Monday (May 8).

Three days after the mass escape, 151 prisoners were still on the run and 197 have been recaptured, Mr Ferdinand Siagian, head of Riau Province's Law Ministry office, which oversees Pekanbaru prison, told Reuters.

"We are carrying out a deep investigation into the serving officers," said Mr Siagian, adding that the warden of the prison had been transferred to a different post.

Before the prison break, prisoners had complained about mistreatment, accusing some guards of violence, he told Metro TV on Friday.

Family members of Pekanbaru inmates also said guards had extorted money from prisoners and their families to ensure they had sleeping space or to speed up visits, according to media.

The Pekanbaru prison housed about 1,800 prisoners, but was meant to hold only up to 700 inmates, a Riau police spokesman said.

To address overcrowding, Mr Siagian said Riau's Law Ministry office was building a new prison to house drug-related inmates.

Indonesia's war on narcotics has led to a spike in the number of convicted drug offenders, stretching an already overwhelmed prison system.