OUTLOOK — By Salem Al Jawhary — Incidents of escape by criminals or defendants have been a never-ending story ever since the criminal behaviour began on the face of the Earth and societies started efforts to contain unlawful acts and outlaws. The Omani society is paying the price for its modernity with the increasing number of illegal practices such as drug smuggling, theft, robbery and even murder, mostly committed by expatriate workers who are brought into the country to contribute to the nation’s economic development.
The escaping on July 31 of a convict trio from the Seeb court building is the latest in a series of similar incidents that annoyed all members of the public and left them wondering as to how a group of three Asian convicts managed to run away through a toilet window on the second floor of the building where they were being held after they were sentenced to jail terms of 10, 15 and 30 years for murder, attempted murder, robbery and fraud.
The escape was not discovered until 2 pm when the guards came to return them to prison. The trio may have fled hours earlier from the building on Sayyida Mazoon road in Al Khoudh and made their way through narrow roads to escape the ensuing manhunt.
The fugitives may be hiding somewhere within the boarders carrying out criminal activities along with other ring members after the efforts to arrest them have come to a halt, or perhaps they fled by sea to their home country or crossed the boarders to a neighbouring country. During the hours that followed their escape there have been checkpoints on the main roads which affected the traffic flow for some time and left the people wondering whether a fleeing convict could appear at a checkpoint on the main road. The only thing that can be done for the time being is to launch investigation and collect information that could help pinpoint their hideout.
In such incidents the citizens need to be made aware of the facts and risks posed by fleeing criminals through a statement by the authorities concerned. It would be quite helpful if the fugitives’ pictures are published so that members of the public will be able to help the police arrest them. Besides, there should be monetary reward for anyone who provides information that helps the police get a clue to their whereabouts.
The absence of such an official announcement could leave the people seeking information about the incident on Internet forums and mobile messages. The officials apparently withheld information and refrained from alerting the public on the pretext that the incident occurred due to negligence on the part of some personnel.
Such incidents happen in many countries and the Sultanate is no exception. However, the crucial thing is to furnish the public with the facts because with the availability of modern means of communication, the facts will be revealed sooner rather than later.