At least 120 prisoners have escaped from a jail in North Eastern Madagascar after nearly 800 people forced their way into Ikongo prison with the intention of lynching an inmate.
According to the country’s Justice ministry spokesperson, the mob overpowered the guards and after a fruitless search for the inmate they wanted, they released the 120 inmates in the prison.
‘‘About 800 people, according to the report we received, asked yesterday morning (Wednesday) to enter Ikongo Prison to get an accused charged with murder placed in custody in order to kill him,” said Jérémie Napou.
The spokesperson says that the officers manning the prison were held hostage and later released by the attackers.
“Five prison officers were even taken hostage before being released by the attackers,” he added.
The director of the prison and the magistrates who had placed the accused under arrest warrant “are hiding” at present “either in the forest or with other officials while awaiting the arrival of the reinforcements”, according to Jérémie Napou.
The phenomena of popular revenge are common on the island of Madagascar.
In 2013, three people – a Frenchman, a Franco-Italian and a Malagasy – were burned alive by a crowd that accused them of killing a child on the tourist island of Nosy Be.
An ancestral legal system that sanctions beatings and sometimes death as a punishment is still followed by some, coupled with a general lack of confidence in institutional justice are some of the reasons why people on this island nation take the law into their own hands.
Law enforcement agencies are considered to be slow and corrupt, fuelling a sense of insecurity in the populace.