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Bali, Indonesia, prison riots spur evacuation of foreign inmates

February 23, 2012 |  3:15 pm

Bali, Indonesia, prison evacuation

This isn't your usual picture of Bali: Foreign prisoners are being evacuated from a jail on the Indonesian resort island after two days of rioting sparked by the stabbing of an inmate during a brawl.

“We want to evacuate them immediately for their own safety,” military spokesman Col. Wing Handoko told the Associated Press. “We need to make sure they aren't used by other prisoners to get international attention or as bargaining chips for their demands."

Every day on World Now we choose a remarkable photo from somewhere in the world. Today we picked this shot of convicted drug smuggler Scott Rush, an Australian, being escorted out of Kerobokan prison.

Kerobokan houses more than three times as many prisoners as it was built for, the news agency reported. Prisoners blame guards for lax security leading to a stabbing last week. They chased off police and seized control of the compound Wednesday, the Australian Associated Press reported.

The prison is notorious for rough conditions; some say unfairly so. A few years ago, journalist Kathryn Bonella wrote a book billed as "the shocking inside story of one of the most brutal, corrupt & truly bizarre jails in the world -- situated right in the heart of holiday mecca Bali." Some prisoners called it inaccurate; a female inmate slammed it as "full of lies," the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

The Monthly, an Australian magazine, gave another, less dramatic account of the jail a few years ago:

On a sweltering June day in the crowded visiting yard of Bali's Kerobokan Prison, I asked Myuran Sukumaran, a young Australian on death row for drug trafficking, about sleep, and dreams. Does he ever have dreams where he's free? Sukumaran shrugged, then grinned. "Daydreams, maybe," he said.

In Kerobokan, there are long, idle hours for activity such as that. The hours are only broken by the visiting periods, six days a week, when friends and relatives of the prisoners squeeze into a tiled courtyard about half the size of a basketball court, jostling for space and sitting on reed mats on the hard ground.

Spot a photo that we should highlight? Please tweet it to us at @latimesworld.

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-- Emily Alpert in Los Angeles

Photo: A drug smuggler is evacuated by Indonesian policemen out of Kerobokan prison in Denpasar on the resort island of Bali on Thursday. Credit: Sonny Tumbelaka / AFP/Getty Images

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