Guards detained over prisoner escape

Updated: 2011-09-26 07:01

By Wang Huazhong (China Daily)

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BEIJING - Prison authorities in North China's Hebei province are conducting an internal investigation over a jailbreak that drew national attention and raised questions on how the escaper managed to remain free for 13 days.

Wang Zhenqing, 43, was caught on Saturday in his hometown of Dancheng, in neighboring Henan province, 470 kilometers away.

He fled from Hebei Provincial No 3 Prison in the city of Shenzhou at 6:15 am on Sept 11, jail officials said.

"The Hebei Department of Justice and Hebei Prison Management Bureau have dispatched a work team to investigate those responsible," said a notice on the official website of the provincial department of justice. The case will be treated seriously."

A Shanghai newspaper, the Oriental Morning Post, quoted an unnamed source in the prison as saying the superintendent had been replaced and guards on duty the day Wang escaped had been detained.

Wang's escape had triggered heated debate on the Internet.

Some called him a hero, and said they would offer him help if they came across him.

Xia Xueluan, a sociologist at Peking University, said the phenomenon reflects younger Chinese holding views that increasingly diverge from mainstream thinking.

"They try to show support for the disadvantaged without considering the cause of the disadvantage.

"It may be caused by dissatisfaction with the widening wealth disparity."

Young people need to be taught to establish a right sense of judgment, he said.

Police said Wang's capture was made all the more difficult in that he had served in the army's special force and knew how to cover his tracks.

Police in Henan and Hebei provinces traced him over 10 km from his home in Wangzhai village to Lumiao village, where relatives of Wang live, the newspaper Beijing News reported.

Police then surrounded a three-story building from 12 pm on Friday, and climbed over the wall and caught him hiding in a room at about 1:30 am on Saturday.

Among the questions being asked about Wang's escape is why he went home, a place that presumably would be one of the first places where authorities would look for him.

Wang began a 10-year sentence for theft in January in a jail that holds 3,700 prisoners. In the prison he made birdcages, a released inmate was quoted as saying.

Earlier, police had said Wang made rope out of plastic bags.

Beijing News quoted unnamed sources as saying he had made his escape by climbing over a prison wall.

In an apparent move to prevent more escapes, new barbed wire has been put up on the prison's walls.

China Daily

(China Daily 09/26/2011 page4)