9 Nov 2010

PNG Corrections Service refuse to comment on prison breakout

7:13 am on 9 November 2010

The Corrections Service in Papua New Guinea says it will give no further comment to international media on whether a prison breakout was sparked by a refusal to transfer inmates who were concerned about a possible outbreak of dysentery or cholera.

The service has confirmed five inmates were shot dead and seven were seriously injured as prison officers tried to prevent them from fleeing Baisu jail outside Mt Hagen on Friday.

The corrections commissioner and deputy commissioner have now refused to comment on the shootings, and on a report in the National newspaper that the prisoners had become angry after they were denied transfers to another jail.

But earlier operations officer, Rueben Manamb said while three prisoners may have died in an outbreak of dysentery last month, they were unsure of the cause of more recent sickness in the prison.

"That I cannot confirm, the recent one, the previous one maybe, but the reason that prompted the escape I would not tell you."

Rueben Manamb says 37 dangerous prisoners remain at large following the escape.