Balthazar rules out negotiations

National, Normal

The National, Tuesday 28th March 2013


CORRECTIONAL Service Commissioner Martin Balthazar says it is wrong to negotiate with criminals and is urging the 46 escapees from Beon jail to give themselves up.

Of the 49 inmates who escaped, four were captured but one managed to escape again from the Jomba police station.

Public in the area remain concerned as 26 of them were reportedly convicted killers.

The inmates contacted The National early this week to say they had a list of grievances that needed addressing before they would surrender voluntarily.

But Balthazar has ruled out any negotiations with the escapees in Madang as unlawful and urged them to surrender now or face the consequences.

Prison authorities are also investigating a group of warders who, prior to the appointment of jail commander Tita Wada, had allegedly been soliciting bribes from prisoners. They even took one high profile prisoner to meet his wife at a hotel, according to claims made.

Other allegations under investigation are the abuse of office and mismanagement of the facility.

Balthazar said an investigation team would be sent to Beon once funding was available.

“Prisoners are prisoners. They can’t demand for a meeting,” he said. 

“They must remember that first they are prisoners and it is up to them to surrender. We don’t negotiate with criminals. 

“Right now they are escapees. If it means shoot to kill them, so be it.”

The 46 escapees were said to have dispersed for fear of their safety after warders and police officers tried to round them up at a hideout on Monday night.

Their grievances include concern for the breakdown in command and control at Beon, no proper classification committee consisting of supervisors of various cell blocks, and a lack of a welfare officer and a CS officer appointed by the commander. 

The welfare section has also been disbanded.