Hunt for Kajinek continues

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A nationwide hunt continues for Jiri Kajinek, a contract killer who managed to escape from a maximum-security prison in northern Moravia on Sunday, as speculation increases that he had outside help for his breakout. Dita Asiedu reports:

Almost three days have gone by since the escape, and there is still no sign of Jiri Kajinek, despite the fact that he was wearing prison clothing at the time of his breakout, and has a very short, prison-issue haircut. Although the nationwide search has not been called off yet, the Czech police say it's highly likely that he had an outside accomplice, and officials fear that he may already have crossed the border. The police have already passed on a request to Interpol for help in tracking down the escaped prisoner, who is believed to be armed and dangerous.

In this year alone, 25 prisoners, Kajinek included, have managed to escape from Czech prisons--some with the help of mobile phones, others with tools to cut through prison bars, plus even the comical but effective use of tied sheets. Jiri Kajinek had nothing to lose, as he was serving a term of life imprisonment, and was unlikely ever to be released for good behavior, so escape was his only option for ever getting out.

Kajinek has managed to escape twice before, and never made a secret of his plans to do so again. When he received his life sentence in February 1999, he calmly told the judge that it was irrelevant what sentence he received, as he would escape anyway. And despite the fact that he was incarcerated in the maximum-security prison of Mirov, from which no one has escaped in twenty-four years, he managed to break out, after extensive physical training and, or so it is now widely believed, with outside help.

It is therefore no surprise that this incident has added to the poor reputation of the Czech prison service. But, this latest affair may also attract unwanted attention from the EU, which is closely monitoring the justice systems of candidate countries preparing for EU membership, and may place a black mark on the Czech Republic's record.

But according to Prime Minister Milos Zeman, Acting Justice Minister Pavel Rychetsky cannot be blamed for the escape. If anyone is to be blamed, then it will have to be the prison's director and her subordinates--but responsibility will have to be assessed after a full investigation.

Meanwhile, Interior Minister Stanislav Gross has protection for all of the witnesses who were responsible for Kajinek's imprisonment, and the judge who handed down Kajinek's sentence admitted that he is rather uneasy about the escape. "Right from the start, I felt that if anyone could escape from that prison, it would be him, because of his intelligence and physical condition," the judge stated. The question that now arises is whether Kajinek is out for revenge or has fled into hiding for good.