Congo: Authorities recapture 90 escaped convicts

AP News
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Posted: Sep 26, 2011 8:30 AM
Congo: Authorities recapture 90 escaped convicts

Authorities said Monday that most of the convicts who escaped a Congolese prison over the weekend were recaptured, as a human rights group condemned prison conditions and called for improvements.

Kasai Occidental governor Hubert Kabasubabu Katulondji said Monday that 114 prisoners fled the prison in Tshikapa Sunday as an ill prisoner was being taken to the hospital. He said police have captured 90 escaped convicts and that one inmate died.

However, Tshikapa resident Henri Tshibuyi said two people died. He said one prisoner was shot dead and another died after being wounded.

Tshibuyi said prisoners had complained previously over a lack of food and water at the prison and over the death of two prisoners amid those conditions.

"The prisoners were upset after the death of two of their own for lack of food," he said.

A Congolese rights group, the African Association of Defense of Human Rights, said prison conditions must be improved and that prisons need to be made safer to guard against escapes.

Despite its mineral wealth, the Central African nation suffers from decaying infrastructure and is still recovering from back-to-back civil wars that ended in 2003.

"Instead of prison being a place to re-educate prisoners, in Congo prison is a place where one can easily die," said the head of the group, Jean-Claude Baka.

He said prisoners often enter in good health but get sick or die because of poor nutrition and medical care. He also said that many prisons are filled to three or four times their capacity.

Nearly 970 prisoners escaped from a prison in the city of Lubumbashi earlier this month. Two people were killed. Hundreds of those convicts remain at large.