The hostages, including Warden Chen Shih-chih and head guard Wang Shih-tsang, left the prison safely. “The six inmates all committed suicide,” Deputy Justice Minister Chen Ming-tang said in comments broadcast on Taiwanese television, adding they had shot themselves.
The six inmates had earlier broken into a weapons storage room in the Kaohsiung city jail on Wednesday, obtained four rifles and six handguns, and took three staff hostage. They later agreed to release them in exchange for the prison chief and another senior staffer.
The six, who are in jail for a variety of crimes including murder, robbery and drugs, claim they were unfairly tried and are demanding their release from prison.
The leader of the six was identified by police as Cheng Li-teh, a senior member of a notorious triad group known as the Bamboo Union Gang. Cheng, sentenced 28 years for murder, has been behind bars since August 2012, according to the justice ministry.
Cheng had said it was “unfair” that Taiwan’s former president Chen Shui-bian – who was sentenced to 20 years for graft – was given parole for medical treatment last month, according to the United Daily News website.
Later Wu Hsien-chang, the chief of the ministry’s correction agency, read a statement from Cheng. “Chen Shui-bian was an inmate too, but why he could be paroled and described as a political prisoner?” it said.
Cheng also complained about the small daily allowance inmates receive, his trial and said sentence reductions should also be applicable to prisoners on felony charges.