Officials inspect the damage at Siak Prison in Riau after a riot by inmates on Saturday morning. (Photo courtesy of the Directorate of Corrections)

Dozens of Inmates Escape During Riau Prison Riot


MAY 12, 2019

Jakarta. Dozens of inmates escaped when a prison in Siak district, Riau, was set on fire early Saturday morning during a riot sparked by a drug-related incident, officials said.

Police are searching for 31 inmates who are still at large, while hundreds have been transferred to nearby facilities.

The incident started after prison guards found a female inmate smuggling crystal methamphetamine, known locally as shabu, in her clothing. The head of the prison reported the matter to police, who questioned three inmates before returning them to their cells. This prompted other prisoners to start breaking down fences and set fire to the facility, Gatot, the head of security at Siak Prison, explained in a statement issued by the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights.

He added that the prison authorities called for police reinforcements. Much of the prison was destroyed in the blaze.

There were more than 650 inmates in Siak Prison when the riot occurred. The facility was only designed for 128.

"We need to launch a serious investigation to find the main cause [of the riot], whether there was a provocateur or something else," said Lilik Sujandi, security director at the Directorate of Corrections.

He said it is a huge challenge to eradicate the smuggling and consumption of drugs at Siak Prison, as most of the inmates are held on cases involving drug abuse.

"We will re-evaluate and improve our progressive handling and preventive measures to avoid similar incidents at other prisons," Lilik said.

One police officer was wounded while security forces tried to bring the riot under control. He has since undergone surgery and is out of danger, Riau Police chief Insp. Gen. Widodo Eko Prihastopo said, as quoted by BeritaSatu TV.

"One police officer was struck in the arm by a rubber bullet," Eko said.

All inmates were transferred to correctional facilities in Pekanbaru and Bangkinang, Riau, by Saturday night.