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'Unprecedented' hunt for escaped French prisoner

Published : Wednesday, 15 May, 2024 at 11:15 PM  Count : 371

'Unprecedented' hunt for escaped French prisoner

'Unprecedented' hunt for escaped French prisoner

An "unprecedented" manhunt is taking place in northern France for a prisoner who escaped during a deadly ambush, reports BBC.

Mohamed Amra, known as "The Fly", was being taken back to jail from a court in Normandy on Tuesday when a car rammed his prison van at a toll booth.

Armed men then opened fire on the vehicle, killing two officers and seriously injuring three others.

The shooting marks the country's first fatal attack on prison staff for more than 30 years.

"All means are being used to find these criminals," French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said.
Mr Darmanin told French media on Wednesday the attack was an act of "cold-blooded barbarity" and that around 450 gendarmes and police officers had been mobilised in the Eure department of Normandy in an "unprecedented" search.

President Emmanuel Macron has told France that "everything is being done to find the perpetrators".

Meanwhile, French prison officer unions have called for walkouts at institutions across the country on Wednesday in support of the two who died.

Hundreds of staff at prison and detention centres across the country have been been staging work-to-rule protests, where they will only perform essential tasks.

In a joint statement, the unions demanded urgent measures to improve staff safety - including the "drastic reduction of extraditions" of prisoners to court hearings, by promoting video-conferencing, and an "overhaul" to escort levels.

A minute's silence will be taking place on Wednesday at 11:00 (09:00 GMT), and there have been demonstrations outside of French prisons, including in Paris according to local media.

French Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti has said he would meet with union representatives.

Addressing a press conference on Tuesday, Paris state prosecutor Laure Beccuau said the attack took place just before 11:00 local time when the van carrying Amra crossed the toll barrier in Incarville in the Eure region of northern France and "immediately, a Peugeot vehicle hit it from the front to stop it".

Who is escaped French prisoner Mohamed Amra?

"Men with long guns got out, joined by other armed men who got out of an Audi vehicle, which was likely following the prison vehicle."

They "fired several times" at the two vehicles, killing and injuring officers, before leaving the scene and taking Amra with them.

The Paris prosecutor said two vehicles believed to have been used by the criminals were found scorched, in different locations, later on Tuesday.

Amra was convicted of burglary on 10 May and had been indicted by prosecutors in Marseille for a kidnapping that led to a death.

His lawyer, Hugues Vigier, told French news channel BFMTV "he would like to believe that he [Amra] didn't know about the plan to free him".

"For me this plan doesn't match with what I know of him. If he's behind it then I failed to understand who he is," Mr Vigier added.

According to some French media reports, Amra had tried to escape his prison cell earlier this week by trying to saw the cell's bars.

Amra is said to have ties to a gang in the southern city of Marseille, which has been plagued by drug-related gang violence.

But his criminal record to date does not contain any convictions for drug offences, the Paris prosecutor said on Tuesday.


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Unprecedented   hunt for escaped   French prisoner  

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