Huge hunt for ex-PLA soldier in jailbreak

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 16 September, 2011, 12:00am


A massive manhunt is under way for a former PLA soldier who escaped from a prison in Shenzhou city, Hebei province, under the cover of heavy fog on Sunday morning, mainland media reported yesterday.

Wang Zhenqing, 43, who was sentenced in January to 10 years in jail for robbery, might have stolen cash and taken a taxi after he scaled a wall at Shenzhou Jail, The Beijing News reported, citing a circular released by the jail calling for assistance in the investigation.

The facility, also known as Hebei No 3 Prison, houses convicted felons serving long sentences.

As a former PLA soldier, Wang is capable of surviving in the wild, said an unidentified pursuer, quoted in The Beijing News. The source said Wang used wood panels and a rope he made out of bags to climb over the wall.

Wang was still on the run as of yesterday afternoon, according to a post on microblogging site Weibo by a spokesman for the Hengshui municipal Public Security Bureau. Hengshui city has administrative jurisdiction over Shenzhou.

The bureau confirmed media reports that lush corn fields around the jail had hindered pursuers and that the search was still continuing.

Police on Sunday requested public assistance in tracking down Wang. They promised a reward of 20,000 yuan (HK$24,400) for providing useful information and 100,000 yuan for catching the escapee, China News Service reported, quoting an official from the Hebei provincial Department of Justice.

The unnamed official said that a local woman saw a suspicious man resembling Wang in a corn field on Wednesday morning. The man was topless, appeared to have injured his legs and was moving slowly.

Police have blocked off the corn fields near the jail, but the plants and dense fog have made the search difficult, the source was quoted as saying.

The jail, which villagers say has been around for decades, is surrounded by four walls, each 500 metres in length. There is also electric fencing and guard towers, The Beijing News reported.

The jail did not reveal how Wang prepared his escape tools and avoided the guards, but it said no fight occurred between Wang and any guards, and no guard was injured before Wang escaped.

A primary school teacher in Gaoguzhuang, a village adjacent to the jail, said checkpoints had been set up at every village entrance and exit and nearby areas, the China News Service reported. The school closed its gate during classes to prevent the escapee from entering, it said.