25 criminals escape from Hagen cells

National, Normal

The National – Friday, December 17, 2010

TWENTY-five hard core criminals broke out of Mt Hagen police cell in the Western Highlands in two separate incidents within six days.
The first incident occurred last Friday between 9pm and 11pm when 10 remandees from Baisu jail who were locked up in the cell cut the iron bar of the cell’s window and escaped.
During the early hours of yesterday morning another 15 remandees broke the cells’ brick wall and escaped.
Provincial police commander Supt Kaiglo Ambane told The National yesterday that the metropolitan cell was no longer safe to lock up the remandees.
He said the escapees were remandees of Baisu jail whom the correctional services officers transported back because no warrants of were given to lock them up in Baisu.
Ambane said that the cell blocks, built during the colonial period, were no longer strong and were falling apart.
He said the cell blocks needed urgent maintenance in order to keep the remandees locked in; if that is not done there would be more breakouts.
He said that all the 11 cell blocks are no longer suitable for keeping the remandees except for one cell block, which they were now using to lock up male remandees.
He said that women cell block also had a problem and women sleep on the verandah.
“We need about K300,000 to renovate at least four cell blocks by making iron cages inside the cell blocks in order to prevent the remandees from breaking out,” he said.
He appealed to the provincial government and local MPs to assist in renovating the cell blocks.
He said that police did not have the money to renovate the building which was built ages ago.
Ambane said shutting down the cell building  would create problems for the province.
He said police were doing their best in arresting and locking up suspects and criminals, but they were taking advantage of the old run-down building by continuously breaking out.