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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Jailbreak death toll now 20

Jailbreak death toll now 20

One inmate dead from lack of treatment, another from 'over-eating'.

Prison director dies from wounds sustained during breakout.

Two inmates and a prison director have died following last month's jailbreak from

CC3 in Kampong Cham, bringing the number of dead to 20 in Cambodia's bloodiest escape

attempt.

Prisoners Soeng Sok Chea, 47, and a 30-year-old whose name was being withheld pending

notification of his family, have since died from injuries sustained following the

break out.

The director of CC3 prison, Sun Bunna, who was taken hostage in the escape attempt,

died in a Vietnamese hospital.

Prison guards opened fire on the prisoners as they tried to escape, killing 17. A

further 28 managed to flee, but 17 have been recaptured, according to acting prison

director Keo Sovanna.

Eleven escapees are still on the run.

One of those recaptured, Sok Chea, was returned to CC3 prison on March 30, but died

shortly after from "over-eating", according to prison officials and police

reports on the incident.

Sok Chea and fellow prisoner Ream Ruom, 57, were identified as the ringleaders of

the escape, reported the Cambodge Soir. Ruom was killed in the breakout.

Dr Gavin Scott said Sok Chea's cause of death sounded very suspicious.

"I have never heard of anyone dying from over-eating," Scott said. "I

don't consider it probable."

A team from Licadho has visited CC3 twice to treat the injured prisoners and also

supply extra food.

Two medical staff and two prison researchers treated 11 inmates on March 31 and April

1. However, they were denied access to the prisoners in their cells, and instead

officials brought the inmates to them.

As of April 1, Licadho director Naly Pilorge said six of the prisoners were in serious

condition and needed to be transferred to a hospital for urgent medical treatment.

It took one week for Keo Sovanna's superiors at the Ministry of Interior to approve

the transfer, and on April 6 and 7 five prisoners suffering from bullet wounds were

transferred to Monivong Hospital in Phnom Penh, 15 days after the breakout.

The deceased man whose name is being withheld had previously been identified by Licadho

as needing an urgent transfer to proper medical facilities. He died April 4 from

the bullet wound he sustained in his left foot.

The Licadho team returned to CC3 April 7 and provided follow-up treatment for seven

inmates. They were allowed to treat a further six inmates not seen on their first

visit.

Although the acting prison director told Licadho of two other prisoners who sustained

minor injuries in the jailbreak, medics were denied access to the men.

Bunna, who was one of four officials held hostage during the breakout, died in Ho

Chi Minh's Charei hospital March 25.

The other three hostages were Keo Sovanna, Chou Chhaiteang, prison manager, and Huy

Tork, deputy chief of the Ministry of Interior.

Tork is in serious condition and awaiting surgery at Da Ming provincial hospital

in Vietnam.

It is unclear if autopsies were performed on the two dead prisoners. Sovanna said

he was unable to give any information as his superiors had not given him approval

to speak on this matter.

The breakout stared about 1:45 p.m., according to Sovanna. He was touring CC3's furniture

workshop with the three other prison officials when 45 prisoners took them hostage.

Sovanna said the prisoners beat and stabbed them and then forced the officials to

drive three cars through a first and second gate inside the prison compound.

He said guards posted at the outer perimeter opened fire on the inmates - and consequently

their bosses - in self-defence as they went crashing through a third and final gate.

Bob Bradley, team leader of the Australian-funded Cambodia Criminal Justice Assistance

Program, which is informally reviewing the incident with the Ministry of Interior,

said he was very disappointed with what happened.

"We are having a lot of discussions with the Ministry of Interior about the

breakdown of policy and training," Bradley said.

Correctional Centre 3, known as CC3, is a prison for males convicted of serious crimes.

At the time of the breakout CC3 held 934 prisoners.

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