200 prisoners escape in Liberian jail break

December 3rd, 2008 - 4:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Monrovia (Liberia), Dec 3 (DPA) The Liberian government has put the final number of prisoners who escaped in a mass jail break earlier this week at 200.Speaking to journalists Tuesday, Justice Minister Philip Banks told journalists that more than 20 prisoners were injured while attempting to escape from Monrovia Central Prison on Monday.

The prisoners, mainly armed robbers on remand, had warned prison guards Monday that they would attempt to break out if they did not get a court date before Christmas, reports said.

Banks blamed the jail break on “serious security lapses” and said that only the arrival of riot police, who fired into the air, prevented more prisoners from escaping.

The prison, which is guarded by police and UN peacekeepers, holds nearly 1,000 inmates.

Liberian prisons are renowned for overcrowding and human rights groups have long criticized the government for doing little to improve conditions.

Rights groups also say the government’s inability to prosecute cases leads to overcrowding.

Liberia is still recovering from a 14-year civil war, which ended in 2003.

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