Authorities in Indonesia have confirmed that the inmates including convicted murders who fled for their lives during a prison fire this week have returned to finish their sentences
On Monday, August 19, more than half the jail’s 500 convicts fled the building when it was set on fire by protesters rioting outside in Sorong city.
The riots and demonstrations occurred after the weekend arrest of dozens of Papuan students in Indonesia’s second-biggest city Surabaya, where they were also targeted with racial abuse.
Confirming the return of the prisoners, Prison spokesman Elly Yuzar said: ‘They weren’t trying to escape – they just wanted to save themselves from the fire.’
‘They also worried about their families… Even convicted murderers have come back voluntarily.’
The convicts are even helping build a temporary office for their jailers, he added, after parts of the building were destroyed.
In Sorong, search teams had fanned out across the city of some 220,000 in a bid to find the escaped prisoners or contact their families, Yuzar said, adding that a dozen were still on the run.
Despite reports that the jails are notoriously overcrowded and unsanitary, Yuzar said: ‘We’ve always treated them well and they knew that running away was not a solution – it would only make things worse.
‘I really appreciate their willingness to come back to prison.’