Source: Pixaby

A convicted murderer sentenced to a minimum-security prison has escaped and remains on the run in Quebec.

Authorities are on high alert after they discovered that Yacine Zouaoui, 32, escaped from the Federal Training Centre in Laval on Thursday night. The Federal Training Centre has both minimum and medium security sections.

Zouaoui is currently serving an indeterminate sentence for Assault Causing Bodily Injury and Second Degree Murder. He was sentenced after turning himself in to police for killing a man by stabbing him in the back with a sword in 2011.

As for why Zouaoui was in a minimum security prison for second-degree murder, the Correctional Service of Canada told True North that requirements for reclassification have improved.

“CSC is required to ensure all inmates are placed in institutions that match their security level. CSC’s approach to both initial security classification and subsequent security reclassification includes the use of evidence-based assessment instruments along with the professional judgment of specialized staff and psychological assessments, if applicable,” said the agency.

“In recent years, the Correctional Services of Canada has strengthened requirements when an offender is being considered for a reclassification to minimum security. This includes requiring that a psychological risk assessment is undertaken for those who meet specific criteria.”

“Mr. Zouaoui fled the scene, abandoned the weapon at a shopping mall, and sought advice from his uncle. He then called the police, turned himself in, and cooperated in the investigation,” revealed court documents from Zouaoui appealing his sentence of second-degree murder, where he argued that he should have been charged with manslaughter. His appeal was dismissed in 2014.

Zouaoui was drunk and high when he decided to bring his sword with him for protection on the way to the car wash. He alleged the man he killed, Zsolt Csikos, had previously yelled, made vulgar gestures, and directed racial slurs at him. The route to the car wash passed the murdered individual’s house, so Zouaoui said he feared another hostile encounter.

He stopped for a cigarette at a corner store next to Csikos’ building when Csikos allegedly drove up, got out of his car, and said to Zouaoui, “There’s that fucking Arab,” while making a vulgar gesture. Zouaoui said he took this as a slur against his deceased father, who died in 2009.

Csikos ignored Zouaoui when he confronted him and instead continued up the stairs to his building. Csikos had his back to Zouaoui when he reached for something in his pocket. Zouaoui thought it was a weapon, so he stabbed him from behind and fled. It was his keys.

His escape has prompted immediate action from both the CSC and law enforcement agencies.

The Quebec region of the Correctional Service of Canada told True North in an email that escapees across the country represent 0.1% of the total inmate population.

“The Correctional Service of Canada immediately contacted both the Laval Police and the Sûreté du Québec, and a warrant for the inmate’s arrest was issued,” said the agency in a press release. 

Quebec’s provincial police force, the Sûreté du Québec, described Zouaoui as 6 feet 1 inch tall, weighing 186 pounds, with a dark complexion, brown eyes, brown hair, and distinctive tattoos, including a teardrop under his left eye and three dots on the web of his left hand, in a news release.

The police force said Zouaoui was last seen wearing a light-coloured top, jeans, and black sneakers. 

“He was travelling on foot, but may attempt to solicit transportation,” said the Sûreté du Québec in French.

The police warned that anyone who sees Zouaoui should not approach him, and instead call 911. They also urged the public to send any information that could help anonymously to the police force.