Bangui prison destroyed; detainees escape

Among those no longer held in the prison include Briton and his colleagues charged with ritual killing of thirteen people held since April 2012

On 2 August 2012 anti-government protesters stormed the central N'garagba prison in Bangui, despite the high walls and razor wires and guards with Kalashnikovs.

David Simpson, held in pre-trial detention on charges of killing 13 people after he said he found their bodies and reported the finding to police, descibed the attack on the prison to the Guardian.

"The were stealing everything they could find. Chairs, tables, sleeping mats. They stole the electric cables from the walls." The vast steel gates at the entrance were lifted off their hinges and taken away and all the prisoners escaped – "apart from me," says Simpson. "From a prison of 750 men, I was the only one left." The guards caught him trying to leave and locked him up.

Simpson continued to be held in what was left of the prison for several hours until his boss, a Swedish national also originally arrested, arranged for the judge in the case to go to the prison and sign for his release.

Photos of the dead men who Simpson is charged with killing showed them to have been bound with their hands behind their backs and beaten or stabbed to death, police said of the 13 corpses found in the Ngungunza mining worksite at the time of Simpson's arrest.

Technically, Simpson is still a prisoner. "It's just that there's no prison to send me to. It's been completely destroyed. And the nearest one now is 200km away." Simpson hopes that the case will be closed soon.

It is unclear where detainees will now be held in Bangui.

© 2016 Dullah Omar Institute
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