Chinese prisoner got other inmates to dig a tunnel so he could come and go from jail
A former prison warden and 15 other officials allowed inmates to dig an escape tunnel, which one used to freely come and go from the jail, a corruption watchdog in northern China has revealed.
They were in charge of the Xilinhot Prison, in Inner Mongolia, when a team of inmates began tunnelling under the direction of Xi Guijun, who was serving an 11-year term for robbery.
Xi had been transferred to the jail in 2003, a year into his sentence, where he received favourable treatment from the warden, Zhao Qinglin, and other officials, the Inner Mongolia Commission for Discipline Inspection said in a statement on Sunday.
Two years later, Xi was involved in a fatal car accident during one of his escapes, and less than two months later an assault in which a man was seriously injured at an entertainment venue, the watchdog said, without elaborating.
But his jail term was reduced soon after, and he was released from prison in 2007.
The graft-buster said Zhao was expelled from the Communist Party for his part in the scandal, while the others – including his deputy Li Luhan and Wang Fengzhou, who was the jail’s party secretary – had been demoted or removed from their posts.
They were exempted from criminal liability because the statute of limitations had passed, the statement said.
The details emerged after the case was first exposed in August, when Xi and other gang members were detained by police as part of a nationwide crackdown on mafia-style organisations and the officials who collude with them.
A month later, the anti-corruption agency launched an investigation into Zhao and the other officials. In January, it concluded that the 16 prison officials had “neglected their duties, indulged criminals, engaged in malpractice and fraud, and acted as a protective umbrella for members of a mafia-like organisation from 2004 to 2007”.
The investigation found that during his four years in the jail, Xi was given special treatment – he did not have to do any prison labour or take part in study sessions, nor did he abide by rules that applied to the other inmates. He was also put in a single cell and given specially cooked meals.
The watchdog said the warden and other officials had been aware that Xi had instructed other inmates to dig an escape tunnel and had turned a blind eye to its construction and his use of it.
And despite his involvement in the car accident and assault, officers at the Xilinhot Prison helped to have his sentence reduced by 4½ years, forging signatures on documents to do so, it said.
Xi is now back in prison after he was found guilty by a court in Inner Mongolia in December of blackmailing for “a very large amount of money” the operator of a coal mine in the region. He was sentenced to 14 years’ jail and his appeal in May was rejected.
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