‘Spectacular’ prison break sees dozens flee

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IOL pic jun6 prison bars worn AFP File picture: Timothy A Clary

Port-au-Prince -

A jailbreak on Sunday at a high-security prison near Haiti's capital left dozens of inmates on the loose, police authorities said.

The escape came after a mutiny erupted in the jail, a spokesman for Haiti's national police said.

“It was a spectacular escape. There was no battle. A hundred inmates fled the prison,” a lawmaker on the scene told reporters.

“We were able to catch 13 escapees,” said police spokesman Garry Desrosier, adding authorities were still searching for others, though he refused to give an exact number.

Among those on the loose, he said, is “Clifford Brandt, an influential businessman jailed since 2012 on allegations of kidnapping for ransom”.

He said a million-gourde ($40 000) reward was being offered for the recapture of Brandt, as authorities continued the search.

Haitian police said that measures had been taken to reinforce border controls and embassies had been warned.

Before the jail break, the prison in Croix-des-Bouquets, north-east of Port-au-Prince, held 897 inmates. The jail was built in 2012, at a cost of more than $5.7 million, financed by Canada.

According to residents of the small town, several hundred people came out of the prison, running in every direction, just moments after intense gunfire broke out in the jail.

“It was a conspiracy carried out inside the prison that caused the escape. There was no attack from outside - contrary to what had been announced,” the police spokesman explained.

“What happened is shocking when we know that this prison is very secure and, in theory, well-controlled,” said Marie-Yolaine Gilles, head of a human rights group.

Anti-riot police were deployed to restore order, while Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe also came to the scene. - Sapa-AFP

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