Kaohsiung Prison Warden Chen Shih-chih (陳世志) yesterday threatened to take legal action against the Chinese-language Next Magazine for publishing what he said were unsubstantiated reports on the prison hostage drama that ended with six deaths on Thursday last week.
“Regarding Next Magazine’s unfounded reports, I have entrusted the prison’s legal consultant to send a legal attestation letter to the publication demanding that it make the necessary corrections to the reports within a week,” Chen said. “Otherwise, I will file a lawsuit against it and ask for NT$5 million [US$158,000] in compensation for tarnishing my reputation.”
Chen made the remarks two days after the magazine accused the warden in its latest issue, published on Tuesday, of trying to conceal the actual events, including the exact number of inmates involved in the jailbreak attempt and whether they had committed suicide, as the prison claims.
The inmates had held Chen and another prison official hostage for nearly 14 hours.
Retired coroner Kao Ta-cheng (高大成) has questioned the prison’s claim that all six inmates killed themselves.
Kao said one of the more reasonable explanations was that the six had offered a prison official a bribe to help them escape prison, but that the person changed their mind after the inmates took hostages and decided to eliminate them.
“Otherwise, how is it possible that all six prisoners who claimed they were victims of mistrials would unanimously agree to end the drama by shooting themselves?” Kao said.
Kao urged investigators to examine the firearms the six allegedly used to kill themselves for suspicious fingerprints, especially those belonging to Chen.
A delivery truck driver who was inside the prison when the siege occurred also told reporters that he “heard the warden telling the inmates to kill themselves.”
Dismissing the speculation, Chen said that all six prisoners came from financially disadvantaged families and based on the meager wage they made at the prison, there was no way they could have had the money to bribe a prison employee.
He also denied that there were more than six prisoners involved in the failed jailbreak attempt, adding that the driver later called him to explain that his remarks had been taken out of context.
As for Kao, Chen said he would also take legal action against the retired coroner should he continue to question his account of events.
“The compensation I demand from the magazine will be donated in full to the prison’s charitable fund and be used to help financially deprived prisoners purchase daily necessities,” Chen said.
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