Lebanese prisoners release warders

Guards taken hostage by inmates are released after nine hours of negotiations.

    Lebanese policemen stand guard on the roof of the Roumiyeh prison during the unrest [AFP]

    Prisoners at Roumiyeh, which is east of the capital, Beirut, were calling for an improvement in conditions and a reduction in their sentences.
    Most of the inmates involved are serving long sentences, or are on death row.
    "General Rifi promised to examine ways of replying to these demands in the framework of the law," the official said.
    On Thursday, about 200 inmates rioted in the jail, setting fire to their cell blocks.
    Deal reached
    An AFP photographer reported seeing smoke billowing over the prison and troop transporters deployed inside the compound.
    The unrest started after a quarrel between a warder and a prisoner escalated.
    Academic Omar al-Nashabi, who has carried out a study of the prison, said that more than 4,000 prisoners are being held in the jail, but it was originally designed in 1971 to hold a maximum of 1,500 people.
    "The building where the mutiny erupted houses nearly 950 prisoners, 225 of them foreigners, mainly Palestinians or Syrians," he said.
    Thursday's riots were the most serious revolt ever at Lebanon's central prison.
    Inmate representatives and police officials negotiated for nine hours before an agreement was reached.
    Under the deal, seven policemen taken hostage by the inmates were released unharmed at 2am on Friday.
    The statement added that the rioting detainees returned to their cells.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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