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October 24, 2009

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Prison breakout: warden loses job

THE warden of a northern China jail has been sacked by the region's prison authority, a week after four of its inmates escaped.

Zhang Heping, warden of the Hohhot No. 2 Prison in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, was dismissed as Liu Jianbin, Deng Jianshe, Sun Yulong, Wang Weiping, all directors of the institution, were suspended from their posts, according to Xinhua news agency.

Their dismissal comes after four inmates broke out, killed a guard, hijacked a taxi and took a hostage before one of them were shot dead and three were arrested on Tuesday.

The three prisoners captured three days after they broke out confessed yesterday that they had planned the escape for a year.

Qiao Haiqiang, Dong Jiaji and Li Hongbing said they spent a long time in the workshop at the prison making knives, which they used to kill the prison guard during their escape last Saturday, Inner Mongolia Morning Post reported yesterday.

They will soon face court on at least five charges including murder, the report said.

Another escapee, Gao Bo, was holding a woman hostage when he was shot dead on Tuesday in Helin County of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

The hostage, surnamed Hou, is still traumatized by the ordeal.

Hou's husband, surnamed Zhao, said his wife could hardly sleep since she was taken hostage on Tuesday.

"She keeps screaming at night and avoiding contact with anybody," Zhao said.

He will take Hou to Hohhot City for a full examination, according to the newspaper.

The three recaptured men were all serving sentences for armed robbery before the escape. One was on death row and the other two were serving life sentences.

Police are now trying to pass on rewards to people who helped in the escapees' capture.

They have identified Wang Degui, who first reported the whereabouts of the escapees on Monday, and a shop owner surnamed Yuan from whom the fugitives bought food the day they were caught.

Wang said he was worried as media coverage had made him and his family vulnerable to attack from the escapees' associates on the outside.


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