Nineteen prisoners, most of them facing rape charges, escaped from a jail in eastern DR Congo overnight, prompting fears of reprisals against their victims, local sources said today.
The 19 broke out of a cell holding 20 inmates at a prison in Kalehe, Gerard Nkwana, administrator for Kalehe, a mining region located in South Kivu province, told AFP.
"Most of them are being prosecuted for rape and theft... While prison guards were distracted, they dug a hole in the rear wall to escape," he said.
Pascal Nabulera, head of a Kalehe community organisation, said, "People appearing (in court) as plaintiffs and witnesses are now at the mercy of these fugitives, who may take revenge."
Poor, struggling with political and ethnic divisions as well as conflict in its east, the Democratic Republic of Congo faces deep problems in its judicial system.
In May, around 4,000 prisoners escaped from Makala prison in Kinshasa, the capital, while 900 broke out from a jail in Beni in North Kivu province in June.
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