Police in Kratie province said yesterday they were searching for four inmates, including three convicted murderers, who escaped from the provincial prison on Monday, while a fifth escapee was arrested yesterday.
Escapees Yen Nara, 26, Thuon Nal, 22 and Sorm Soknang, 27, were convicted of murder in 2009 and were serving sentences of between 10 and 18 years, according to provincial police chief Chuong Seang Hak. Keo Phea, 29, was awaiting trial for armed robbery, he added.
Ith Samean, 35, who was also in pretrial detention for armed robbery before the escape, was arrested yesterday after he returned to his home province of Prey Veng, Mr Seang Hak said.
“Around 12 am to 2 am Monday [the prisoners] used a small saw to cut the wooden prison wall during heavy rainfall,” Mr Seang Hak said. He added that the inclement weather had made it difficult for prison guards to patrol.
“We sent their information to district and commune authorities and police officials to keep attention to arrest the men who have fled from police custody,” he said.
Provincial governor Kham Phoeun said the prison director had informed him of the breakout.
He said the prisoners had drugged the other nine inmates who shared their cell before making their escape. “They gave the other inmates together a drugged milk drink to make them unconscious,” he said.
Leav Moy, deputy director-general at the Interior Ministry’s prison department, said he was confident police would apprehend the fugitives.
“They could face five more years in jail once we arrest them,” he added.
Mr Moy said that the age of the prison structure had probably made it easier for the inmates to escape.
“They broke out because our prison is so old, so including other circumstances it made it easy for them to flee,” he said.
Thim Narim, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said she was concerned for the safety of local residents. “This is careless of prison guards to allow the prisoners to escape,” she added.