Prisoners commit suicide in Taiwan prison siege

2015-02-12 07:57
Armed policemen standing guard over the bodies of hostage takers at the Kaohsiung Prison in southern Taiwan. (Kaohsiung Police Department, AFP)

Armed policemen standing guard over the bodies of hostage takers at the Kaohsiung Prison in southern Taiwan. (Kaohsiung Police Department, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Taipei - Six armed inmates who held a warden and guards hostage in a failed bid to escape a prison in southern Taiwan committed suicide early on Thursday and all the hostages are free, a top justice official said.

The justice ministry said authorities had rejected the inmates' demands for safe exit from the prison during the hours-long standoff after the inmates seized weapons. By the pre-dawn hours, the inmates had released all hostages except the warden. They then shot themselves, and the warden was able to walk free, deputy justice minister Chen Ming-tang said in a televised interview.

The ministry did not offer any video or other evidence of the reported suicides, but authorities were planning a news conference later on Thursday.

Chen said in the interview that "there was no police raid." He said four of the inmates shot themselves first and that the remaining two had fired additional shots at them to make sure they were dead before shooting themselves.

Five prison staffers were slightly injured during the standoff, Chen said.

The incident started when the inmates — serving long sentences for burglary, murder and drug crimes — took four rifles, six handguns and more than 200 bullets from the prison's armoury, the ministry said.

The ringleader, Cheng Li-te, belonged to the notorious mafia-type organisation Bamboo Union and was serving a 28 ½-year sentence for homicide, the ministry said. The other five inmates were serving sentences ranging from 25 years to life.

They demanded safe passage from the prison while holding Warden Chen Shih-chih and head guard Wang Shih-tsang after the pair offered to swap themselves for earlier hostages.

No injuries had been reported prior to the reported suicides in a standoff that lasted more than six hours, the ministry said.

Witnesses interviewed by private cable news station TVBS said gunshots were heard. Other reports said the shots were fired into the air.

Within hours of the hostage taking, armed police had surrounded the prison in the port city of Kaohsiung. Authorities also called on relatives of the inmates to plea for the release of the hostages.

The ministry said it had rejected demands that the police force be withdrawn and that two vehicles be provided to allow the prisoners to leave in exchange for the safety of the detainees.

The inmates used the need for medical care as a pretense to lure prison guards before kidnapping them, the official Central News Agency said.

The United Daily News said that in a phone call with Cheng he said the incident had been long planned and that he was prepared to die for it. The newspaper said Cheng complained about the tendency of judges to presume guilt, insufficient allowances for inmates and unfairness in granting medical paroles.

The ministry said Deputy Warden Lai Chen-jung and head guard Wang volunteered to swap with the two guards who were initially taken hostage. Later, Chen, the prison warden, offered to exchange with Lai as a hostage.

Read more on:    taiwan

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.