Prison Riot Ends, Hostages Freed

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Prison Riot Ends, Hostages Freed

Post by Admin on Sun Apr 27, 2008 5:28 am

A mutiny at Lebanon's largest prison in Roumiyeh where guards had been taken hostage ended peacefully early Friday.

"The
prisoners handed over the seven warders they were holding hostage and
returned to their cells after having negotiated and handed over demands
to the chief of internal security, Antoine Shakuri," a security
official said.


The
prisoners at Roumiyeh, eight kilometers (five miles) northeast of
Beirut, were calling for an improvement in their prison conditions and
a reduction in their sentences, he said. Most of the inmates were
serving long sentences, or were on death row.


The
official said police chief Gen. Ashraf Rifi promised to examine ways of
replying to these demands in the framework of the law.


Earlier he said that the rioters had set fire to their cells in the block holding convicted inmates.

The mutiny broke out at 4:35 pm Thursday after a quarrel between a warder and a Palestinian prisoner got out of hand.

Security
sources told Naharnet hundreds of riot policemen advanced across the
ground floor of the building after firefighters extinguished a blaze
that inmates had started in mattresses after taking guards hostage.


"The
riot police force moved into the building through emergency outlets,
cleared the ground floor which includes the management offices and
moved into the first floor" of the three-story building, said one
source who asked not to be identified. Each floor includes 60 cells.


The rioting inmates are armed with makeshift knives, and "sharp tools," the source added.

"They
don't have firearms simply because the guards they took hostage were
not armed in line with prison rules," the source explained.


The advancing force is using "tear gas canisters to control the inmates, some of whom are surrendering," he added.

Academic
Omar al-Nashabi, who has carried out a study on the prison, told AFP
that more than 4,000 prisoners were being held in the jail which was
originally designed in 1971 to hold a maximum of 1,500.


"The
building where the mutiny erupted houses nearly 950 prisoners, 225 of
them foreigners, mainly Palestinians or Syrians," he said.


The
security official said the disturbances did not affect the remand
section of the prison where detainees suspected of taking part in a
deadly Islamist uprising in the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp
last summer are being held.


He
explained that four ex-security commanders, jailed in Roumiyeh in
connection with the 2005 murder of ex-Premier Rafik Hariri, are also
being held in the remand section about 150 meters away from the
convicts' compound at the recommendation of the U.N. commission of
inquiry into his killing.



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