Update, 7.40pm Indonesian authorities have vowed to clean up Bali’s notorious Kerobokan jail following days of unrest which has prompted the evacuation of a large number of inmates.
However, it remains unclear whether 12 Australians held at the jail will be among those removed after a number of them, including the Gold Coast’s Schapelle Corby, told authorities they did not want to be relocated.
The only exception so far is Scott Rush, a member of the Bali Nine drug smuggling group, who has been moved at his own request.
Indonesian Justice and Human Rights Ministry spokesman Bambang Krisbanu said Corby, as well as members of the Bali Nine, wanted to stay at the jail.
“Her reasons are they she is worried about having to adapt to new surroundings, and that she’s not ready mentally,” he said.
“The Bali Nine are the same as Corby. They are not ready to adapt to a new place.”
He said it was preferred that prisoners leave voluntarily.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra confirmed earlier plans had been made to transfer the Australians to another facility at Klungkung, about 70km from Kerobokan.
“Consular staff in Bali have spoken individually to Australian prisoners in Kerobokan and confirmed they remain safe,” a representative said.
Some prisoners did leave the jail this afternoon with the first of the evacuees emerging at about 5.40pm local time.
The evacuation got under way following negotiations with the ringleaders of two days of rioting which started on Tuesday night.
It is understood inmates leading the latest unrest demanded the return of three prisoners shot in the leg with rubber bullets and removed from the jail when police stormed the compound yesterday morning.
Earlier, provincial military command spokesman Wing Handoko said that authorities wanted all foreign inmates removed because of fears they could be taken hostage.
“We are evacuating the prisoners to avoid them being taken hostage by other prisoners, or being used by others prisoners as bargaining chips in negotiations (with authorities),” he said.
“After the evacuation we will be able to restore order in the prison. We will clean it up,” Handoko said.
The overcrowded jail, which houses more than 1000 male and female inmates, has been the subject of a major security operation since Tuesday night when inmates began rioting and then seized control.
Authorities were able to take the jail back early yesterday morning but were forced out onto the streets again last night.
“The prisoners took over the prison again, which forced security personnel to fire warning shots into the air,” Handoko said.
Prisoners responded by throwing flaming missiles onto the street outside the jail.
Prisoners began rioting on Tuesday night after days of simmering tensions following the stabbing on Sunday of one prisoner by three inmates from a rival drug gang.
The jail was built to hold just over 300 prisoners and overcrowding is believed to be a major source of discontent among the inmates.
Indonesian Justice and Human Rights Minister Amir Syamsuddin arrived at the jail today.