Rebel leader, 56 inmates escape from East Timorese jail
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Australian and Portuguese forces initiated a massive manhunt for the escapees, which with their escape, created a new crisis for international security forces in East Timor. Australian SAS troopers using Black Hawk helicopters and night-vision goggles were involved in the search.
GNR's liaison officer, Lieutenant Cabrita told the Portuguese Rádio Renascença news agency that the prisoners took advantage of the relieve of guard to escape. "The evasion happened during the relieve of the forces that were serving in the jail's security, having the escapees used vehicles for their escape".
Later Australian police liaison officers confirmed the escape of the rebel leader. "It is understood 57 prisoners are currently unaccounted for, one of those being Mr Alfredo Reinado," an Australian police spokesman said.
Alfredo Reinado is a former East Timorese Army officer who deserted and led a rebel group during the unrest in May, being blamed for some of the country's violence during the security crisis. Him and other 14 soldiers of his rebel group were arrested on July by Australian troops for illegal possession of firearms after an GNR patrol found them with pistols, hundreds of ammunition and grenades in a house during a routine operation.
Of the other 56 prisoners unaccounted for, 16 are believed to be former Timorese police and soldiers accused of crimes committed during East Timor's security crisis, and five prisoners convicted for homicide.
According to Becora's prison warden Carlos Sarmento, the inmates had escaped by breaking down several walls on the prison's east wing.
The East Timorese Justice Minister, Domingos Sarmento, blamed the international security forces for the jailbreak and told the Lusa news agency that the New Zealand forces in charge of the security of the prison's exterior left the prison without informing the Timorese government.
"There was an agreement in which the forces of New Zealand would be in charge of the outside security of the prison, but about a week ago they left the location and didn't inform us", Domingos Sarmento said.
Domingos Sarmento said that he contacted the Australian-led forces so that the security outside the prison could be restored, but was told that the forces' removal from the prison were due to the necessity of deploying troops in other points of the city.
The Minister recognized that the absence of police and military forces on the prison's outside and the fact that the guard were unarmed contributed to facilitate the escape of the prisoners. Also recognizing that the use of weapons by the guards would improve the security in the jail, he noticed that the internal regulation doesn't allow that use.
- "Timor-Leste: Evasão aconteceu durante o render da guarda" — , August 30, 2006
- "Major Alfredo Reinado fugiu da prisão de Becora com mais de 50 reclusos" — , August 30, 2006
- "Rebel leader escapes E Timor jail" — , August 30, 2006
- Lindsay Murdoch. "Rebel 57 in mass Timor jailbreak" — , August 30, 2006
- Mark Dodd. "East Timor jailbreak by rebel leader" — , August 30, 2006
- Diário Digital / Lusa. "Timor: Nova Zelândia abandonou cadeia sem avisar, diz ministro" — , August 30, 2006
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