Fresh escape causes embarrassment for Czech prison services

The Czech prison service faced further embarrassment on Tuesday when yet another convict escaped from a prison in Moravia. This is the third successful escape attempt from a Czech prison over the past ten days, the most infamous of which was the dramatic jailbreak of hired assassin, Jiri Kajinek, whose whereabouts are still unknown. Nick Carey has this report:

At best, the past ten days could be described as a disaster for the Czech prison services. The first blow to morale came on October 29th, when Jiri Kajinek managed to break out of Mirov, a maximum-security prison in North Moravia from which no-one has ever successfully escaped. What seemed at first to be a daring lone effort by Mr. Kajinek turned out to have been caused by a mixture of neglect and alleged corruption within the prison. The notorious killer, considered one of the country's most dangerous criminals, somehow obtained a mobile phone and a cutting device to saw through the bars of his cell, allegedly bribing several prison guards in the process.

In the aftermath of this escape, heads have rolled at Mirov, with eight guards, the prison's deputy director and director removed from their posts. Things looked extremely shaky for prison service director Kamila Meclova, but acting Justice Minister Pavel Rychetsky announced on Tuesday that her job was safe.

If the escape of Jiri Kajinek was not enough, two other prisoners have escaped since his jailbreak. Last Wednesday, a prisoner escaped from Vsehrdy prison in North Bohemia by climbing over the main gate. No, you didn't mishear that, he climbed over the gate. And a third convict, also resident in Vsehrdy prison, who was given a pass at the weekend for a visit home to see his wife, has vanished without a trace. In response, the justice minister has cancelled all home leave for prisoners for the foreseeable future. If the shock to prison service morale has not been bad enough over the past ten days, these escapes have naturally raised questions over the state of the service and what has brought it to such a low point.

According to political commentator Jan Culik, the problems faced by the prison service reflect the state of the Czech civil service as a whole: There was one small piece of good news for the prison service on Tuesday, when another prisoner was caught while attempting to escape. After the disasters of the past ten days, however, this will probably come as small comfort.