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November 19, 2009

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Inmate flees under-investigation jail

A CENTRAL China jail's management was under investigation for corruption before a prisoner, who is still on the run, escaped from it.

The jail's former warden is being investigated for allegedly taking bribes linked to another graft case involving the province's top jail-management officer, yesterday's China Youth Daily reported.

It cited Wang Yuanrong, office director at the Deshan prison in Hunan Province's Changde.

The Hunan disciplinary inspection committee launched the bribery investigation into warden Xiang Jianrong in August, two months after the investigation into Liu Wanqing, former director of Hunan Prison Administrative Bureau, the paper reported.

Liu allegedly took bribes from prisoners to offer benefits during his tenure and had a "huge" volume of wealth he could not explain.

Liu was also criticized for leading a corrupt lifestyle, the newspaper said. Liu has been referred to prosecutors.

An escape occurred on Sunday morning, Wang said.

He denied previous media reports that the prisoner, Liu Hong, 38, had tunneled his way out of the jail.

Liu Hong used a ladder to climb over the 4.5-meter-high jail fence, Wang said. "Apparently, Liu Hong carried out the escape after careful planning," Wang said.

The prison has handed out 7,000 copies of wanted notices to villagers around the jail to seek public help to catch Liu Hong.

Anyone who provides information leading to Liu Hong's arrest will be awarded 20,000 yuan (US$2,900) and anyone who catches him will receive 50,000 yuan.

Hundreds of jail and police officers are searching mountainous areas, where residents reported Liu Hong, serving time for robbery, stole a mobile phone, money and a motorcycle.


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