HIROSHIMA--A man serving a 23-year sentence for attempting to murder a police officer escaped from a prison in Hiroshima on Jan. 11 after climbing out of the exercise yard in broad daylight.
Surveillance cameras captured images of Li Guolin, a Chinese national with a record of trying to escape, scaling a 2.6-meter wall at around 10:30 a.m. after getting on the roof of a storeroom in the corner of the exercise ground.
The prison, in Hiroshima’s Naka Ward, has 98 surveillance cameras but officials admitted there was only one prison officer monitoring the equipment and that the individual did not notice the breakout. Li had climbed the wall before a roll call of prisoners in the exercise area was conducted.
He got on the roof of the prison office building by scaling a gutter and other means, and then got over a 3-meter-high temporary fence, which had been put up for construction work, and another fence that was under construction.
Touching the outer fence was supposed to trip alarm sensors, but the officials said the alarms had been switched off because of the building work.
At a news conference on Jan. 11, Hideyuki Yamazaki, head of the prison’s general affairs department, apologized for the lax security and a delay of about an hour before the prison raised the alarm with the police.
“At first, we thought he had not got outside the prison,” Yamazaki said. “We are really sorry.”
The blunders come at a bad time for Japan’s law enforcement authorities. Police were heavily criticized for initially turning away a suspect wanted in the Aum Shinrikyo crime spree who tried to turn himself in on New Year's Eve after nearly 17 years on the run. There was further bad publicity when a Taiwanese man wanted in connection with the murder of two compatriots fatally stabbed himself while in police custody on Jan. 9.
Li, 40, was found guilty of attempted murder of a police officer after he fired a gun at the individual in May 2005 in Okayama. He had been incarcerated at the Hiroshima prison since June 2008.
In June 2005, prior to the finalization of his sentence, he seized a police vehicle taking him to hospital to treat a foot injury and fled. He was arrested 30 minutes later.
Hiroshima city was put on alert on Jan. 11 after the escape and Li was placed on the most wanted list. City education officials said children should not travel to and from school unaccompanied.
A mother picking up a fourth-grade pupil at an elementary school near the prison said: “I will not let my child go out alone until the fugitive is captured.”
- « Prev
- Next »