Five inmates were killed in a police chase after nearly 70 prisoners escaped in a mass jailbreak in Lebanon today.
According to police in Beirut, the inmates smashed their cell doors and attacked prison guards before fleeing.
Five of the escaped prisoners then died when a car they stole crashed into a tree during an ensuing police chase. One other person was taken to hospital.
Families and relatives of fugitive prisoners who had fled gathered outside to enquire about their fate after it was announced that some were recaptured while others had died in the escape.
Lebanese policemen have been standing guard at detention center of Baabda courthouse compound were nearly 70 inmates broke out of a prison earlier today
Relatives of the prisoners gathered outside the prison n the Beirut to find out the fate of their loved ones
Nearly 70 inmates were able to escape the prison in the mass jailbreak this morning but five prisoners were killed in a police chase. Pictured: Families wait to hear about their family members
The mass prison break involving 69 prisoners occurred at a prison in Baabda, a suburb of the Lebanese capital Beirut.
Police said 15 inmates have been re-arrested so far and four of the escaped prisoners handed themselves over.
Security forces sealed off the area around the prison and were conducting a manhunt for the remaining prisoners.
‘A manhunt is…underway to arrest the remaining fugitive prisoners,’ police said in a statement.
The police in Beirut confirmed 15 inmates has been re-arrested so far and four had handed themselves in. Pictured: Police escort a prisoner who had fled a detention centre
Relatives of prisoners attempted to speak with Lebanese policemen who stood guard outside the prison to see what had happened to their family members
Security forces sealed off the area around the prison and were conducting a manhunt for the remaining prisoners
Five of those who escaped died when the car they stole while they were fleeing crashed into a tree
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.
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.
Relatives of the inmates gathered outside the detention centre, located in Baabda’s Justice Palace, where some were awaiting trial.
The authorities are now calling on people in the area to be on alert and large numbers of security forces have been deployed in the search for the remaining inmates
Some families are still waiting to hear whether or not their loved ones were involved in the crash, have been re-arrested or are still on the run
An investigation has been launched by Prosecutor Ghada Aoun into the breakout
Prosecutor Aoun said she did not rule out the possibility of ‘collusion between the detainees and security guards tasked with protecting their cells.’
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.
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.
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
Some of the people gathered outside were desperate to find out their family’s fate while others handed their sons back in to the prison
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. Pictured: Families wait to hear about their relatives
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.
In April, Amnesty International said there had been riots inside Lebanese jails and families had organised sit-in protests calling for the release of prisoners over concerns about the spread of COVID-19 in overcrowded prisons.
It said that while the Lebanese government had taken several measures, including some releases, the authorities should prioritise releasing prisoners who had served their sentences and expedite a review of pre-trial detainees.