An Iranian prisoner was able to flee North Cyprus and return to his home country after paying a police officer a £20,000 bribe, a newspaper has claimed.
Mohamed Amine Khereoubi escaped from Lefkoşa State Hospital in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) on the morning of 25 April.
Mr Khereoubi, who was being held on remand while waiting to stand trial for drugs charges, had been taken to the hospital after falling ill, a Facebook police appeal for information said at the time.
Media reports said that he had fled through a toilet window after being treated for appendicitis.
On its front page on Wednesday, 12 June, Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Düzen carried a report that Mr Khereoubi, said to be 29, had contacted the paper from Iran to explain what had happened.
He said that he had hatched an escape plan while in detention after witnessing the “violent” behaviour of prison guards, particularly towards non-Turkish speaking foreign nationals, the paper reported.
Talking to Yeni Düzen reporter Dila Şimşek via video messaging, the fugitive said, “If you reach the right person at the right time, you can do anything you want at the prison. Because there is bribery and corruption”.
He had procured a mobile phone for “several thousand Turkish lira” to help arrange his plans.
“I got in touch with a corrupt police officer, who offered to help me escape in return for £20,000, so I agreed” Mr Khereoubi was quoted as saying.
Mohamed Amine Khereoubi told Yeni Düzen reporter Dila Şimşek “you can do anything you want at the prison. Because there is bribery and corruption”
“He told me to wait until my next court hearing on 13 June, but I didn’t want to wait that long.”
When prison officers caught Mr Khereoubi with the mobile phone they “beat me so badly that my appendix burst,” he told Yeni Düzen.
The suspect was taken to hospital on 20 April, taking advantage of a guard’s break five days later to make his getaway, the paper reported.
“The police officer who said he would help me came to the hospital in the early hours of 25 April,” Mr Khereoubi continued.
“The guard was having a rest at that moment. I went to the toilet and escaped and got into the car of that police officer.”
Mr Khereoubi then claimed that the policeman, who he said he had paid off via a third party, drove him to Girne harbour. He then boarded a ferry to Turkey and from there travelled to Iran “with ease”, the newspaper wrote.
In April, TRNC Police announced they were looking for escapee Mohamed Amine Khereoubi
TRNC police and prison authorities have yet to comment publicly on the matter. However, Yeni Düzen reported on Thursday that following its sensational front-page story, which dominated the news agenda on Wednesday, the police and Central Prison authority have launched an investigation. A team from the TRNC Police Headquarters also visited the newspaper’s Lefkoşa office to take statements and other evidence to help with their enquiries.