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Massive Lyon prison transfer goes smoothly

Video by Aurore Cloe DUPUIS , FRANCE 2

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2009-05-04

More than 400 detainees were transferred under intense surveillance from two decrepit prisons in the centre of Lyon to an ultra-modern facility in the French city's suburbs, the first transfer operation of its kind in Europe.

More than 400 detainees were transferred from the decrepit 19th century prisons of Saint Joseph and Perrache, in the centre of Lyon, to a new prison facility in Corbas, in the city's outskirts. The biggest such operation in France’s history, the transfer was carried out under top security.

Handcuffed in pairs, detainees left the Saint Joseph prison in groups of 15 to 20. The operation began at four in the morning on Saturday and lasted all through Sunday.

Nine hundred law enforcement officers were deployed to monitor the operation and prevent any prisoner escape, rebellion or smuggling. By Sunday evening, the transfer had been completed, with no incidents reported.

The new, ultra-modern Corbas prison in the outskirts of Lyon can house some 690 detainees. Individual cells are equipped with showers and intercoms through which detainees can call for help. For the first time in Lyon, the accused will be kept apart from those already sentenced. It’s a far cry from their former unit: Perrache and Saint Joseph were two of France’s oldest and most run-down detention centres, under heated criticism for their bad hygiene and security conditions.

Despite this change for the better, Lyon prison guards will join their colleagues in a nationwide protest organised by three labour unions on Monday. They are to call for more staff and better working conditions.

Date created : 2009-05-03