Fri | May 7, 2021

Death toll rises to 25 in Haiti jailbreak; 60 now recaptured

Published:Saturday | February 27, 2021 | 1:23 PMCMC
Recaptured inmates following a jailbreak in Port-au-Prince Haiti Thursday are led by Haitian police (photo via CMC).

Investigations are ongoing in Haiti following a prison break that led to the death of 25 people.

Authorities on Friday reported that more than 400 inmates escaped in the country’s largest and deadliest prison break in a decade, with the prison director and a powerful gang leader among those killed.

According to local reports, it is believed that Thursday’s jailbreak at the Croix-des-Bouquets Civil Prison, northeast of Port-au-Prince, was to free gang leader Arnel Joseph, who had been Haiti’s most wanted fugitive until his 2019 arrest on charges including rape, kidnapping and murder.

The police report that Joseph was riding on a motorcycle through the Artibonite area on Friday –  a day after his escape when he was spotted at a checkpoint.

Police spokesperson Gary Desrosiers said Joseph pulled out a gun. He died in an exchange of gunfire with police.

Today, the police said 60 inmates were recaptured.

State Secretary Frantz Exantus said authorities have created several commissions to investigate who organised the breakout and why. 

Also killed was the prison director, Paul Joseph Hector.

The prison is known for a 2014 breakout in which more than 300 of the 899 inmates, being held there at the time, escaped. After the 2014 breakout, officials said they were taking steps to up security at the prison that Canada built in 2012, including installing security cameras and placing ankle monitors on the most dangerous prisoners. 

At the time of Thursday’s breakout, the prison held 1,542 inmates, nearly twice its capacity.

President Jovenel Moïse tweeted on Friday that he condemned the most recent jailbreak and asked people to remain calm. 

He added that Haiti’s National Police “is instructed to take all measures to bring the situation under control.”

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