ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraq’s Interior Ministry on Thursday announced the arrest of the alleged “mastermind” of a recent jailhouse breakout in Baghdad.
A joint narcotics control department and the army “arrested one of the fugitives,” who is “the mastermind of the prison escape operation,” ministry spokesperson Saad Maan said in a statement.
The announcement comes five days after a video of Saturday's escape, captured on security cameras, was widely circulated on Iraqi social media.
Maan reported that, during the capture, both the suspect who was hiding out inside a house and an alleged accomplice who owned the property resisted the arresting officers.
The purported mastermind and the rest of the escapees have reportedly been convicted in drug-related crimes. Maan claimed the ringleader was especially notorious.
Reports have varied on the number of individuals who fled the facility, initially indicating it was close to 20 people, but the national judiciary on Monday named a lower figure.
“The number of suspected fugitives is 14… and among them includes convicted [individuals] sentenced to 10 years imprisonment,” the Supreme Judicial Council said in a statement on Monday.
CCTV footage circulated on #Iraq|i social media networks purportedly showing roughly 20 detainees escaping from a detention facility in #Baghdad.— Kurdistan 24 English (@K24English) August 4, 2019
Details: https://t.co/qVatnzILWk pic.twitter.com/BnOLZbfZ0I
Counting those arrested the day after the escape and the latest one on Thursday, the ministry says that nine out of the total fourteen fugitives have been retaken into custody.
In addition, five officers and eight others suspected of involvement in the incident have been arrested, the Central Court of Inquiry on Terrorism Cases at the Rusafa Court of Appeals announced on Monday.
The public escape from the eastern Baghdad prison known as al-Qanat has caused a stir within the country’s security apparatus, with Interior Minister Yassin al-Yasiri immediately dismissing three top police officials: the chiefs of Baghdad, Rusafa, and Bab al-Sheikh.
Late last year, five inmates broke out of a prison in Najaf by climbing through a hole in the facility’s wall.
Editing by John J. Catherine