Lebanese police hunt dozens after mass jailbreak

Lebanese police hunt dozens after mass jailbreak

Police in Lebanon on Saturday hunted for 44 fugitive prisoners who escaped from a detention centre on the outskirts of Beirut, calling on local residents to be on alert.

Despite tight security, 69 people broke out of a detention facility near the presidential palace in Baabda, east of Beirut, a police statement said.

Five were killed in a car accident when they lost control of the stolen vehicle as they rushed away and crashed into a tree. One other person was taken to hospital.

By early afternoon on Saturday, 15 had been recaptured, and another four had handed themselves back in, leaving 44 on the run.

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“A manhunt is…underway to arrest the remaining fugitive prisoners,” police said in a statement.

Local authorities called on residents to be on alert, with large numbers of security forces deployed searching the area.

Prosecutor Ghada Aoun has ordered an immediate investigation in the breakout.

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Speaking to AFP, she said she did not rule out the possibility of “collusion between the detainees and security guards tasked with protecting their cells.”

Judge Fadi Akiki, a government representative at the military court, held a meeting with security officials after inspecting the detention facility and site of the car crash.

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Relatives of the inmates gathered outside the detention centre, located in Baabda’s Justice Palace, where some were awaiting trial.

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Some asked about the fate of their relatives, while others handed their sons back into custody, according to an AFP photographer.

They include Joumana Berjawi, whose 22-year-old son escaped after being held for six months on charges of attempted murder — a charge she denies.

“My son was among the escapees, but I brought him back and handed him over to the state,” Berjawi told AFP.

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The jailbreak comes as detainees across Lebanon have called on parliament to approve a draft general amnesty law, that would see thousands of them freed from coronavirus-hit prisons.

Lebanon has recorded over 113,000 Covid-19 cases including 884 deaths since the outbreak began in February.

The country is currently under lockdown until the end of the month to stem an uptick in infections.

[AFP]

Vanguard News Nigeria

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