PARLIAMENT- Only 20 out of the 224 prisoners who escaped from Moroto Prison on September 16 were serving their sentences while 204 of them were on remand awaiting trial for different criminal offenses.
Parliament learnt on Thursday that the prisoners, who took off with 14 guns, 15 magazines, and 480 rounds of ammunition, took advantage of the “low morale” by the prison warders following the outbreak of Cholera and Covid-19 in the prison.
The statement read for Junior Minister for Internal Affairs, Mr Mario Obiga Kania by the Deputy Attorney General Mr Jackson Kafuuzi indicated that at the time of the prison break, there were a total of 687 inmates of whom 236 were convicts whereas 451 were on remand.
According to the statement, out of the 20 convicts, four were serving sentences for murder, four for rape and three for theft.
Crimes of aggravated defilement, manslaughter, aggravated robbery, assault, desertion, escape, failure to protect war materials, grievous harm and stealing Cattle each had one convict among the escapes.
Seventy eight of those who were on remand had been committed by the low courts for trial in the High Court for the capital offenses they had allegedly committed.
Out of these, 46 were on murder charges, 16 on aggravated defilement, 13 on rape and three on robbery.
They were being tried by the UPDF 3rd Division Court Martial.
Of these escapes, 93 were on charges of being found in possession of illegal firearms; seven were on murder, three on failure to execute their duties; absence without leave, failure to protect war materials and failure to protect firearms.
Meanwhile, 20 other escapes were facing trial in the Magistrates Courts for different criminal offenses they had allegedly committed.
Mr Kafuuzi said that by Tuesday, 201 prisoners were still at large after the rest were recaptured or killed during a joint manhunt by the UPDF, police and prison services.
“Out of 224 prisoners that escaped; 16 prisoners have so far been recaptured and 07 prisoners killed during the exchange of fire with the combined security forces ; leaving a total of 201 prisoners still at large as of Tuesday 22nd September 2020,” the statement reads in part.
He said that Moroto Prison which is supposed to have 229 sentries had only 86 wardens which made it difficult for them to stop the massive escape of inmates.
On top of this, the government also attributed the massive escape on inmates on; weak infrastructure and overcrowding since the facility was designed to hold 197 inmates.
However, MPs raised concerns over the insecurity being caused by the disappearance of the guns which the escapees ran with, arguing the government to double efforts to recover them.
Padyer County MP Mr Joshua Anywarach said the security in Karamoja is very key because after the disarmament of the Karimajong, their neighbours [Pokot] in Kenya are armed.
Prisons boss Johnson Byabashaija on Tuesday placed a bounty of Shs1.5 million for anyone who would recover a gun and Shs500,000 will be pegged on every escapee that can be identified by the community.