3 prison breakers get death sentence

09:58, July 07, 2010      

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Three inmates in northern China who broke out of a maximum security prison after killing a guard - sparking a nationwide manhunt last October- were sentenced to death yesterday.

Hohhot City Intermediate People's Court in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region found Dong Jiaji, Qiao Haiqiang, and Li Hongbin, guilty of murder, robbery, kidnapping and theft yesterday morning.

The three, aged between 21 and 28, escaped with another inmate Gao Bo from the Hohhot No.2 Prison. Gao held a woman hostage at knife point in the final confrontation with police. A sniper shot him in the face and rescued the woman surnamed Hou.

The court also ordered them to pay 57,326 yuan (US$8,455) to the family of Lan Jianguo, a prison guard they killed in the break-out.

Lan was stabbed 54 times while he was watching the inmates sorting ice-cream bars on October 17. The Ministry of Justice has given Lan's family 20,000 yuan for his sacrifice.

Dong and Qiao said they will not appeal the sentence, but Li said he will appeal.

Dong and Qiao confessed that they masterminded the escape. They recruited Li and Gao as muscle two weeks before their attempt to overcome the prison's security force.

As part of the plot, the four kidnapped a guard surnamed Xu, robbed him of his key cards, stripped him of the police uniform and used it to fool sentinels at the cell wall.

Three escapees put on their street clothes and simply walked out through the prison gate, which supposedly only opened when a key card and iris-scanning passed the check at the same time. Once free, they stole a taxi and stole 700 yuan from a female passenger.

The prison authority said the iris scanner was installed a few days before the prison break and was not functioning at the time.

Their escape put a spotlight on lax security at Hohhot prison. As an institution crowded with killers and robbers, security staff was in short supply, according to an earlier report.

A guard who worked in the facility for more than 10 years who refused to be named said work shifts exceeding 10 hours were routine and the guards were chronically fatigued.

A single guard could be in charge of up to 50 prisoners during work or exercise time as the prisoners were often scattered over a large area, Xinhua news agency reported.

The prison's warden, Zhang Heping, was dismissed and prison officials Liu Jianbin, Deng Jianshe, Sun Yulong, Wang Weiping suspended a week after the escape.

Source: Shanghaidaily.com


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