Breakout inquiry focuses on pliers

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 July, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 July, 1995, 12:00am

THE investigation into a mass breakout of Vietnamese from the High Island detention centre is examining how they obtained powerful wire-cutters.

Investigators are considering the possibility that a guard might have taken a bribe to deliver the 20-centimetre pliers to an inmate.

They believe they could also have been smuggled in by a visitor or found by the Vietnamese when they went on a rampage through the camp last month and broke into storage and supply facilities.

A senior government official said it was apparent staff negligence was to blame for the escape of 90 detainees early on Sunday.

The official said the escape had probably been sparked by announcements that a deportation flight would be scheduled soon.

Inmates cut through two six-metre fences made of high tensile steel in a matter of minutes. Most of those involved were transferred to the camp from Whitehead detention centre two months ago.

An official report into the escape is expected to be delivered to the Security Branch in about a week.

But a separate report is being prepared into security upgrading at High Island and the two other main detention centres to assess what structural changes could be made to offer tougher security.

More than 160 police officers resumed the hunt yesterday for the escapees. Sixty-two boat people have been caught, including two women.

Sai Kung Divisional Commander Superintendent Michael Broom said two of the recaptured Vietnamese were found with weapons - a sharpened water pipe and a homemade knife.