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Battambang escape leads to prison probe

Authorities in Battambang province were questioning dozens of prison officials about how five inmates broke out of the provincial prison early on Saturday morning, a high-ranking police official said yesterday.

Deputy provincial police chief Chhet Vanny said law-enforcement and court officials had been grilling prison staff one by one about the incident since Sunday.

Chhet Vanny said he would release information about his findings after everyone had been questioned.

“We will discuss what the officials tell us,” he said.

The five men broke out of the Battambang provincial prison after being moved into a low-security room reserved for the sick.

This is the second breakout from the prison this year, and authorities have not tracked down any of the fugitives.

The escapees, three of whom were imprisoned for murder and serving sentences of more than 10 years, had lung infections and their coughing was disturbing sleeping prisoners, prison guards said.

A spokesman for the Interior Ministry’s prison department told the Post on Monday the ministry had dispatched officials to the province to investigate the jailbreak.

Ran Vannjhon, a prison researcher in Battambang for the rights group Licadho, said yesterday he had been barred from meeting with prison officials when he visited.

“I wanted to go inside the prison to see the room they broke out of and to talk to the officials there, but I was rejected,” Ran Vannjhon said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mom Kunthear at kunthear.mom@phnompenhpost.com

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