Sunday, 19 June 2011

Probe into prison riot in Narathiwat that left 25 injured

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Narathiwat governor Thanon Vejkornkanont has set up a committee to investigate a prison riot yesterday that left 20 police and five defence volunteers injured.
He wants to try to find out which prisoners incited others to attack the officials

The chaos began at about 7am when Deputy Narathiwat Governor Dejrat Simsiri led a 150-strong team of police, military and civilians to search the male prisoners' dormitory as part of a drug-suppression operation, while the 999 male inmates were gathered in the yard. The officials were seizing methamphetamine, crystal meth and cell phones hidden in the dormitory when several inmates jailed for violations of national security, got upset and suddenly urged others to stop the search. The inmates hurled metal pipes, wooden sticks and stones at the officials.

The officials escaped but 25 were injured - 11 with serious head wounds. But no inmates were hurt.

After hours of negotiations, the provincial governor, who went to try to control the situation, got the inmates to stop their protest.

Thanon later said he ordered prison officials to monitor the situation with a combined force to guard the prison to prevent another riot.

He also set up a committee to investigate which inmates started the riot and which inmates attacked the officials. He said it was tough to control rioting in the jail partly because it was located in the city centre.

Thanon urged a thorough check on how prohibited items were smuggled into the prison and punishment of any official involved in the smuggling.

Prison commander Suphot Suwantip also blamed the location of the jail for problems controlling prisoners and said relocating the jail would be a good long-term solution. He said the prison wall wasn't very high so people with bad intentions may be able to throw prohibited objects into the jail.

Corrections Department deputy director-general Thanit Sriyapan said plans to move the prison to a 342-rai plot in Tak Bai district's Ban Khok Kradook Moo were ongoing, with the construction budget set at Bt500 million. He said details would be put to the Justice Ministry shortly.

The prison holds 1,100 inmates - 140 of them for people who broke national security laws in the far South.

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