Sat, Feb 06, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Officials probe smuggling case at Pingtung jail

INSIDE MEN:Prosecutors questioned three workers and one former employee after contraband including cellphones were found in an inmate’s cell in a search

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Prosecutors are investigating a security breach at a major correctional facility in Pingtung County, into which mobile phones and other objects were allegedly smuggled for inmate Lin Feng-te (林豐德).

The Pingtung District Prosecutors’ Office on Wednesday said a prison worker surnamed Feng (馮) and a woman surnamed Wu (吳), reportedly Lin’s girlfriend, were detained on Tuesday due to evidence against them in the case.

Pingtung Prison, operated by the Ministry of Justice’s Agency of Corrections, said it has since suspended Feng, pending the outcome of the investigation.

Two other prison workers, surnamed Chu (朱) and Kuo (郭), who were on Wednesday questioned by prosecutors in association with the case, were released on NT$100,000 bail each and transferred to other duties, prosecutors added.

Prosecutors said they had summoned the three prison workers for questioning, along with one retired worker surnamed Ke (柯), earlier this week.

Prosecutors suspect the four — in the course of their daily routines, which gave them access to prison cells — of helping smuggle cigarettes, mobile phones and other objects for Lin, in exchange for money provided by Wu.

The case surfaced in October last year, when, during a search of cells, Lin was found to be in possession of three mobile phones — Singaporean-made Card Phone CM1s, which are said to be the world’s thinnest cellphones at 63mm — and nine SIM cards.

The cellphones were hidden inside hollowed out common blue-and-white slippers, which investigators said they suspected were used to smuggle the phones into the facility with the help of prison workers.

When the cellphones were discovered, Lin denied they were his, saying they belonged to other inmates.

However, an examination of call records from the SIM cards showed investigators that Lin had placed calls to Wu, his family and several friends.

After wrapping up their investigation, prosecutors said the evidence pointed to involvement by Feng and other workers to smuggle the prohibited items into the jail in exchange for bribes.

Lin is serving a seven-year sentence for a hit-and-run, which resulted in three deaths, and for fleeing the scene of the accident while on parole after serving 15 years of a 20-year sentence following a conviction for attempted murder and illegal possession of a firearm.

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