Escaped Inmate’s Death Sparks Riot in Papua Prison

December 03, 2010

Jayapura. Hundreds of inmates at the Abepura Penitentiary in Papua rioted on Friday to protest over the shooting of a fellow prisoner who escaped and was killed in a raid the same day.

The prisoners shattered windows and destroyed fixtures like chairs and tables after jail officials refused to identify the officer who shot Hiron Wetipo, who had fled with five other inmates early on Friday.

Dozens of officers from the National Police Mobile Brigade (Brimob) rushed to the scene to restore order, according to Nazaruddin Bunas, head of the Justice Ministry’s Papua office.

Additional help was sought from the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), he said.

Nazaruddin said Buchtar Tabuni, a convicted separatist rebel and the riot leader, had demanded that authorities name Hiron’s shooter. “They didn’t give in to his demand, so the riot broke out,” he said.

Adj. Sr. Comr. Imam Setiawan, chief of the Jayapura Police, said Hiron and his group had gone into hiding in Tanah Hitam, Abepura subdistrict.

They were found by a joint police and military team looking for alleged separatists who launched a series of attacks along Jalan Raya Abepura on Sunday.

Suspecting Hiron’s group of having a weapons cache in their hideout, officers fired warning shots and moved to arrest them.

“However, the fugitives resisted and the officers shot one of them, [Hiron], in self-defense,” Imam said.

Four of the convicts — identified by authorities as Urbanus Mabel, Marnus Togodli, Paro Kosay and Yohanis Elokpere — managed to escape, while a fifth, John Wandik, was arrested.

There have been three reported cases of prisoner escapes from Abepura Penitentiary this year.

In May, 18 prisoners took advantage of an ongoing riot by correctional guards to make their getaway. Two were recaptured.

A month later, 26 inmates escaped after guards failed to show up for work over a labor dispute. In October, two more prisoners broke out.

Authorities have failed to arrest the escaped convicts.

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