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France

Doctor freed after being taken hostage by prison inmate

Video by Cyril VANIER

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2010-04-07

A doctor was freed after being taken hostage in Paris on Wednesday afternoon by a Santé prison inmate, France’s justice ministry said. The inmate is reportedly listed as a "particularly difficult" and dangerous prisoner.

A prison doctor was freed around 5 p.m. on Wednesday after having been taken hostage by a prisoner earlier in the day, the justice ministry said.

An inmate at the Santé prison in Paris took one of the prison’s psychiatrists hostage at 11:50 a.m. and held him in the high-security quarters of the prison, ministry spokesman Guillaume Didier said. It was not immediately clear how the doctor was subsequently freed.

The hostage-taker was reportedly listed as a “particularly difficult” inmate by prison authorities, according to prison union sources. Less that one percent of all inmates in France are listed in that category, which is reserved for particularly dangerous and unpredictable individuals.

“There have been more and more cases of hostage-taking at prisons in recent years,” Jean-Philippe Thomas of the UFAP prison union told FRANCE 24. “This is due to chronic understaffing in prisons and an increase in the number of prisoners suffering from serious psychological disorders.”

French Justice Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie ordered prison authorities to launch an emergency rescue mission. A special anti-gang police unit was sent to the prison, as was Paris deputy police chief Christian Lambert. “All relevant police forces and prison authorities have been mobilised and are perfectly coordinated,” spokesman Didier told FRANCE 24 during the hostage crisis.

The Santé detention centre, located in the 14th arrondissement in southern Paris, is one of France’s oldest. Built in the 19th century, it is notorious for its poor living conditions and overcrowding.

 

Date created : 2010-04-07

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