Subject: LUSA: Over 50 escapees still at large after Friday jailbreak

19-08-2002 13:01:00. Notícia nº 4014759 Temas: new destaque1

East Timor: Over 50 escapees still at large after Friday jailbreak

More than 50 prisoners who escaped from Dili`s main prison Friday, after a riot apparently provoked by anger at hold-ups in the processing of inmates` cases, remained on the run Monday.

Timorese police sources told Lusa that of the 179 inmates who escaped from the Becora jail, 102 returned to the institution after meeting with government representatives Friday.

Of the remaining 77 escapees, 23 "were caught or voluntarily presented themselves" to the authorities, the same sources added. Police continue their efforts to recapture a remaining 54 prisoners.

Timor`s minister of internal administration, Rogerio Lobato, told Lusa that he had made a television appeal "to all the prisoners to return voluntarily" to Becora prison.

"If they do this, they will receive special treatment. ... If they escape and do not return, we will have to enlist the help of the people", said Lobato.

Friday`s mass breakout prompted the head of the UN mission in Timor (UNMISET), Indian diplomat Kamalesh Sharma, to cut short an official visit to Thailand and the Philippines and return to Dili for contacts with the government.

A statement released by UNMISET said that the talks with senior Timorese ministers focussed on ways of bolstering prison and judicial sector administration.

"In is fully recognized that an accessible, equitable and efficient judicial system is critical for the functioning of state", read the UN statement.

A Timorese government source contacted by Lusa said that some elements of UNMISET were pressing for the recruitment of judges and legal specialists who were "fluent in Indonesian".

The UN mission was seeking to bring in legal officials from Asia, in preference to Portuguese-speaking countries, the same source said, as most of Timor`s judges were trained in Indonesia and a concerted effort was being made to restrict the use of Portuguese in Timor`s courts.

CJB/ASP -Lusa-

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