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Defence Assist East Timorese Following Jailbreak

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Defence

31 August 2006

Defence Force Assist East Timorese Following Jailbreak

New Zealand Defence Force personnel are assisting with efforts to recover 57 inmates who escaped yesterday from Becora Prison in Dili, Defence Minister Phil Goff said today.

"Our Defence Force personnel are manning roadblocks and have been conducting patrols within the Becora area looking out for escapees.

"New Zealand and the multinational force are not, and have never been, responsible for running the prisons in Timor Leste or for maintaining security within them. That is solely the responsibility of the Timor Leste Ministry of Justice.

"However New Zealand has responsibility for maintaining order in the Becora district and regularly patrols the area around the prison.

"Our presence is designed to deter any external attack on the prison, such as by those wishing to settle scores.

"We are concerned that the inmates were apparently able to escape with such ease, walking out through the front gates of the prison.

"This is an issue which will clearly require investigation by Timor Leste authorities, in discussion with the United Nation Mission in Timor Leste", Mr Goff said.

ENDS

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