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12 December 2008 - Media release

INTERPOL deploys fugitive investigation support team to locate 151 escapees following Liberian jailbreak

LYON, France – An INTERPOL Incident Response Team (IRT) is to be deployed to Liberia to support the national law enforcement authorities and the INTERPOL National Central Bureau in Monrovia following the escape of 202 prisoners from the capital’s South Beach prison.

Whilst 51 of the fugitives have already been arrested following quick action by Liberian authorities, 151 still remain at large. The fugitives, who have been convicted of a range of crimes including murder and attempted murder, armed robbery, theft, burglary and rape, pose a clear threat to public safety.

During the escape, many of the inmates’ prison records were destroyed, hindering investigations to identify and locate them.  INTERPOL’s team, comprising officers from the Fugitive Investigation Support Unit, the Command and Co-ordination Centre and the INTERPOL Regional Bureau in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, will provide support to the National Central Bureau and other Liberian law enforcement agencies in their investigation.

“Liberia is clearly doing all that it can on a national and international level to apprehend the fugitives,” said INTERPOL’s Executive Director for Police Services Jean-Michel Louboutin. “INTERPOL and all of its member countries will support these efforts. The response from law enforcement regionally and worldwide must be swift and comprehensive to ensure that these fugitives are captured as quickly as possible.”

The INTERPOL IRT will also work closely with the United Nations Mission in Liberia which has deployed troops to apprehend the escapees.

Once the identifying information is gathered, INTERPOL's IRT will assist NCB Monrovia in issuing Red Notices, or international wanted persons notices, for the fugitives who are still on the loose, thus increasing the chance that these dangerous criminals are located and arrested promptly.   

INTERPOL’s 24-hour Command and Co-ordination Centre at its headquarters in Lyon, France, has been in constant contact with NCB Monrovia to provide full support to Liberian authorities following the incident on 1 December. The CCC issued a warning alert to neighbouring countries, and the INTERPOL Regional Bureau in Abidjan is providing permanent support and assistance.

An INTERPOL IRT – composed of expert police and support staff tailored to the specific nature of the incident – can be briefed, equipped and deployed anywhere in the world within 24 hours of a request being made by a member country.  Since the deployment of its first IRT to Bali following the bombings in 2002, INTERPOL has sent more than 40 teams around the world providing specialist on-site assistance for man-made or natural disasters.