Questions are being asked about the escape was possible in broad daylight in a busy suburb and there are now calls for increased security at the overcrowded and understaffed prison. Police said they believed the inmates were still on the island. “Our team are still working. They haven’t been found yet,” said Bali police spokesman Hengky Widjaja.
The police said they wanted to check the tunnel to ensure that no one was trapped inside.
The four men were named as Australian Shaun Edward Davidson, Bulgarian Dimitar Nikolov Iliev, Indian Sayed Mohammed Said and Malaysian Tee Kok King. hey were jailed for drug and immigration violations.
There are questions about whether the men really used the tunnel to escape as there was no visible excess soil around its entrance.
The Sydney Morning Herald said that Davidson, 33, had fewer than three months left to serve. He reportedly fled to Indonesia after the Australian authorities issued an arrest warrant for him in 2015. He was arrested in Indonesia in 2016 and was accused of using somebody else’s passport with an out-of-date visa.
Kerobakan is where fellow Australian, Schapelle Corby, was imprisoned for nearly 10 years on drug-smuggling charges before she was freed last month.
The prison has nearly 1,400 inmates, more than four times its capacity, supervised by only 11 guards most of the time. Many prisoners are foreigners who fell foul of Indonesia’s strict anti-drug laws.
“The tunnel is about 12 metres long and we suspect it took more than a week to build,” said Tonny Nainggolan, Kerobokan prison governor.
Nainggolan said the ideal guard-to-prisoner ratio was one officer for 20 prisoners but at the moment there was currently around one guard for each 120 inmates. The governor said he had previously requested an extra 200 staff but had received no response from the government.
The tower near where the tunnel emerged outside the jail was unmanned due to staff shortages.
The New York Times reported on the prison’s reputation for overcrowding, corruption and rioting.
In May more there 300 prisoners escaped from an overcrowded jail on Sumatra.
Picture credit: Wikimedia