Murderer escapes from Sharjah prison for an hour

It is unknown how the American managed to flee Sharjah Central Jail or exactly how far he got before he was recaptured.

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An American man facing the death sentence in Sharjah Central Jail escaped from prison on Sunday night but was caught about an hour after breaking out, prison officials said yesterday. It was not immediately clear how Shahid King Bolsen, sentenced to die in 2006 for killing Martin Herbert Steiner, got out of the detention facility. Sources at the prison said Bolsen offered heavy resistance when he was caught by guards.

Unlike Abu Dhabi's Al Wathba Detention Facility, which is in a remote area, Sharjah Central Jail is in the heart of the city. It is surrounded by the Traffic Department, the Ramtha Stadium, residential areas and several schools. "He went very far, but our guards caught him," the source said, without specifying exactly how far he got. Since the escape attempt, officials said, Bolsen has been held in solitary confinement, where he will not be allowed access to visitors or be able to call his family, all of whom are in the United States. The source also confirmed he has been placed under heavy security.

A representative from the American Embassy in Abu Dhabi was not able to comment on Bolsen's situation because he had not signed a privacy waiver. Bolsen pleaded guilty at his trial to "accidentally" murdering Steiner, a German engineer he met on the internet. He put his body in a suitcase and hid it alongside Dubai Hatta Road. He was sentenced to death by Sharjah's Criminal Court of First Instance. He has since been in and out of the courtroom in hopes of having his sentence reduced.

Bolsen's case eventually was sent to the Federal Supreme Court, where a federal judge remanded the case back to the Appeals Court on June 1. He has not appeared in court since then. The clerk of the appeal court in Sharjah said the court is waiting for his file form the Federal Court in Abu Dhabi. Sharjah prison was built around 1975 and, according to the Sharjah Municipality, went through two weeks of maintenance in June 2008.

According to current inmates at the prison, a facility was set up in 2008 to create work, computer training and general rehabilitation for the inmates. The centre contains a small collection of books and daily newspapers. A wife of one of the inmates said there is one television in the common area. The woman, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said there are four people to one cell with two bunk beds. Officials declined to say how many prisoners are being detained there. Sharjah Police did not return calls.

Nashwa al Qubaisi, who represented Bolsen in the Federal Supreme Court, said last night that she was not aware of the incident. The director of the jail, Col Sultan Abdullah Al Khaliali, declined to comment.