Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- Saudi security authorities have launched an investigation into the escape of two prisoners from the high-security Al-Haer Prison in southern Riyadh.
Confirming the incident, Interior Ministry police chief Ali al Harthi stated, “Security authorities launched an investigation last Saturday [August 2] immediately after the prison break to ascertain the facts and means of escape.” He also said that such incidents happen all over the world.
In a telephone interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, al Harthi disclosed that, “both escapees are Saudi nationals; however we are still looking into the means of escape.” The police chief has demanded the launch of an inquiry to reveal the means by which they had fled and added that there was a possibility that they might have escaped from the police station during interrogation.
“We deal with all forms of prison breaks and the truth must come to light, regardless of the situation. Officials who have been negligent must be held accountable if the escape is a result of their negligence – irrespective of the reasons.”
Al Harthi denied allegations that any security personnel had been injured; there were reports following the incident stating that several security men had been physically assaulted by two prisoners who then managed to escape.
According to the information and reports received by Asharq Al-Awsat, the two prisoners in Al Haer Prison managed to flee after a fight broke out between the prisoners and guards; however, al Harthi denied these reports.
Over the past few years, Saudi has witnessed a number of prison breaks, especially from Al Malaz Prison after seven prisoners were able to escape as a result of security-related issues. At the time, the Saudi Interior Ministry condemned the prisoners and stated that their cases would be withdrawn from the Commission for Investigation and Prosecution (CIP) and that their trial procedure will be suspended. The ministry also stated that if they did not turn themselves in, they would lose the chance to be pardoned by the Custodian of the Two Mosques King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz who annually pardons prisoners. They were urged to come forward or else they would be treated as wanted fugitives by Saudi security.
Director-General of Riyadh prisons, Brigadier Mohammed al Dossary, had previously confirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat that all the city’s prisons are fitted with state-of-the-art surveillance equipment and the latest maximum-security vehicles. However, he pointed out that there is no need for mobilization to increase protection in prisons since they are fully equipped to deal with situations – even potential terrorist attacks –and that they remain in a vigilant state of high alert when it comes to such groups.
Al Dossary’s statements come at a time following the Saudi security forces’ success in foiling a plan in which a terrorist cell tries to break into a Saudi prison in an attempt to help their jailed comrades escape following their arrest during the April 2007 clampdown. During these sweeps, the Saudi Interior Ministry issued a warning to anyone harboring, dealing- or collaborating- with these groups and urged people to come forward with any information by calling the Toll-free number ‘990’. This line is dedicated to receiving information about wanted people and fugitives from the law who are on the Ministry of Interior’s lists.