One week after 113 inmates at Lambaro prison in Bandeh Aceh decided to mount their own impromptu ‘mini haj’ (mini-pilgrimage), more than 40 of them are still at large, defying demands by authorities that they return.
The 76 prisoners still at large at the time of writing) were among a larger group that had been allowed out of their cells for evening prayers (Maghrib) in the prison’s mosque on Thursday, November 29.
According to reports the prisoners, the majority of who were convicted of drug offences, used the period of spiritual contemplation to flee the prison, over powering 10 guards. Others who were not participating in the prayers were reportedly preparing the path to ‘mecca’, cutting through wire and metal bars across windows leading to rice fields in front of the prison complex.
According to the police the brazen escape must have been well thought out in advance and executed, “because they had barbells to smash metal bars and windows”.
Sri Puguh Budi Utami, head of corrections at the justice ministry said in Jakarta on Friday that the mass jail break could have been as the result of stricter operational rules imposed by the prison authority following the appointment of a new prison governor.
“Several inmates requested to perform Maghrib together … it was exploited to attack the guards, break windows and doors, and escape”, she said.
Police rapidly rounded up 37 of the fugitives in neighbouring Banda Aceh, Aceh Besar, Pidie, and Lhokseumawe. The hunt continues for the remainder, with security raised and roadblocks erected across Aceh province.
Senior Commissioner, Trisno Riyanto, Chief of the Banda Aceh City Police, said “the inmates may be charged with criminal offences as they were involved in vandalism”. In Indonesia there is no charge of escaping from custody.
Calling on the prison escapees to surrender, Aceh provincial chief Rio Septianda Djambak said the police “will not hesitate to take to take firm action to force them to obey the law”. He urged families and relatives of the inmates to assist in turning them in.
Last year more than 400 prisoners in Indonesia broke out of an overcrowded jail in Riau province, pulling down a gate near a mosque in the prison complex after being allowed out of their cells to pray during a Friday prayer session.
Following the September 28 Sulawesi earthquake and tsunami 1,425 prisoners escaped from the jail there. At last reports 68 had returned voluntarily, with the government telling those who escaped they had little time to visit relatives and must return. It’s not known how successful this call was.
Feature video ntv7 news
- 37 Inmates Escaped from Aceh Prison Arrested (Tempo.co)
- 113 inmates escape from Indonesian prison during prayer time (News24)
- Aceh Prison Break: 26 Inmates Recaptured, Dozens Still on the Run Urged to Surrender (Jakarta Globe)
- 26 Escaped Inmates Recaptured, Dozens Still At Large (Indonesia Expat)
Between November 2010 and February 2012 she was a staff writer at Daylight Online, Nigeria writing on health, fashion, and relationships. Since 2010 she has worked as a freelance screen writer for ‘Nollywood’, Nigeria.