Haiti officials said Monday that 30 of 34 prison inmates, who were awaiting trial at a prison in Saint Marc, are still absconding, The Associated Press (AP) reported. The prisoners reportedly sawed off the steel bars of their enclosure and jumped over to an adjacent church to get away.
Berson Soljour, Saint Marc's police commissioner, said that the Haitian National Police have recaptured four of the escaped prisoners but the rest of them are still on the run. The men were waiting to be tried by the courts, and one of them was facing a murder charge, AP reported, adding that the on-duty guards have been detained on suspicion that they may have aided the escape. Police officials have circulated photos of the men in the Artibonite region in central Haiti, in an effort to generate leads on the missing prisoners.
The port city of Saint Marc is located about 61 miles north of the country’s capital of Port-au-Prince. The prison housed nearly 500 prisoners at the time of the jail break, AP reported. According to the World Report 2013, released by the United Nations Human Rights Watch (UNHRW), the prison suffers from overcrowding and cells designed for eight people typically hold 36 inmates.
In August, about 330 prisoners, including those who were charged with and convicted of serious crimes, fled from a jail in Croix-des-Bouquets with the help of weapons provided to the inmates by the guards. Most of the prisoners from that group are also still at large, AP reported.
The country, which is the poorest nation in the Western hemisphere, is heavily dependent on the U.S. to prop up a failing government, especially after a 2010 earthquake that killed nearly 160,000 people and further destroyed the country’s struggling economy.