2 detainees tried to do a Selamat by trying to escape from the custody at the courts yesterday. Fortunately for the police (but unfortunately for them), their freedom was shortlived. They were quickly taken back into custody and no one (well, except the poor policeman who opened the door to the cell) was hurt. According to the article, there seemed to be some form of negligence at the part of the police officer who opened the gate without looking at the CCTV. Police investigations are underway, but with the incident of Selamat’s escape still lingering in the air, it’s unlikely anyone will just get away with a slap on the wrist.

Perhaps it’s about time someone start looking into the SOPs? As for the detainee who assaulted the police officer, well, I guess that means more jail time for him. I wish them all the best in there.

TWO detainees escaped from custody at the Subordinate Courts yesterday at around lunchtime. But their flight to freedom was short-lived.

One man did not make it out of the building.

The half-dressed heavyset man apparently tripped and fell near the security checkpoint at the entrance of the court, where visitors are screened. Three uniformed officers pinned him down and he was back in custody.

The other man, who was of medium build and had a goatee, leapt over a rope barrier and dashed out of the building with a posse of security guards and cops in pursuit.

He got as far as the driveway of the nearby Furama Hotel, about 100m away, before he was taken down by a baton-wielding guard, said an eyewitness.

He was escorted back to the courts surrounded by more than 10 uniformed officers.

He was wearing the standard white T-shirt and brown trousers issued to remand prisoners. The other man, who was shirtless, wore similar trousers.

According to eyewitnesses, both men, who appeared to be in their 30s or 40s, were not handcuffed when they tried to escape.

In a statement last night, the police said the two men had appeared in court in the morning for separate charges related to robbery with hurt. They were brought back to the lock-up to be transferred to the Queenstown Remand Prison and were placed in the same cell.

At about 1.45pm, a police officer opened the cell gate to give water to one of the men at his request. As he opened the gate, the two men seized the opportunity to attack the officer and charged out, said the police statement.

They continued to assault the officer violently, punching and kicking him in the face and stomach. While he was down on the floor, they made their way to a gate at the exit of the lock-up.

They then pressed a buzzer for the gate to be opened.

According to procedure, the police officer responding to the buzzer should verify the identity of the person via the CCTV before opening the gate.

‘He failed to do so. He opened the gate without checking, thereby enabling the two men to make their way through a stairwell leading to the ground floor public area of the Subordinate Courts’, added the statement.

All the action was over in about 10 minutes, just before 2pm, and the public was not in danger, according to the police.

This is the second escape bid from the Subordinate Courts recently.

Last September, two men who were handcuffed together, slipped out from a ground-level courtroom. They ran up the stairs before falling 10m to the seventh-floor corridor.

One of them broke his hip, while the other hurt his right pubic area and had other injuries.

They were sentenced to jail and caning for various offences, including robbery with hurt and escape from legal custody.

Yesterday, the Commissioner of Police, Mr Khoo Boon Hui, said: ‘We have a proper system to manage persons-in-custody. Though our officers have arrested the two men expeditiously, I am treating the matter seriously and have directed CID to investigate the escape, including whether there was any negligence involving the officers. Action will be taken against those found to have not carried out their duties properly.’

For voluntarily causing hurt to a public servant, the two men may be imprisoned up to seven years, fined and/or caned. They also face charges for the escape attempt. If convicted, they may be imprisoned up to two years and fined.

selinal@sph.com.sg

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 12th June 2008



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