20 Oct 2016

Cook Islands police standoff with prisoner ends

3:24 pm on 20 October 2016

A standoff between police and an escaped prisoner in the Cook Islands has ended.

Christopher Rimamotu escaped from prison on Rarotonga yesterday while on a day release for a community work scheme and is believed to have fatally shot two people while on the run.

A photo released by the Cook Islands Police Service, which is looking for Chris Rimamotu of Titikaveka.

Chris Rimamotu of Titikaveka has been found by police in an abandoned house. Photo: Cook Islands Police Service / Facebook

Unconfirmed reports said Rimamotu shot himself while holed up in an abandoned house in Vaima'anga and had been dead for some hours.

In a statement, the police said the situation was contained but that no further information would be released while the investigation was underway.

Rimamotu had served one-and-a-half years of a seven year sentence for kidnapping and sexually assaulting a young girl.

RNZ International correspondent Florence Syme Buchanan said a special taskforce activated to apprehend Rimamotu did not appear to have enough members to handle the situation and had been bolstered with community constables and prison wardens.

She said reports that Rimamotu had abducted his nine-year-old son were incorrect and the child was safe with his family.

Around 200 people live in the area but are scattered across large properties and road blocks in place will not affect the main flow of traffic around the island Ms Syme Buchanan said.