Roumieh Inmates Stage Riot Overnight as Mashnouq Vows Situation under Control

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A limited riot was staged by inmates in Roumieh's block D overnight on Monday as Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq vowed that the situation will not return to the way it used to be.

Sunday's riot comes two days after a similar incident in the same facility on Friday that was led by the Islamist inmates.

Voice of Lebanon radio (93.3) described Sunday's unrest as “limited,” adding that no one was injured in the incident.

Security forces kicked off at the early hours of the morning an operation to restore calm in the block.

Inmates attempted to thwart their progress by burning their mattresses.

Security forces in the prison and in the surrounding area have stepped up their measures to prevent any escalation and contain the unrest.

Mashnouq had paid a visit to the prison later on Monday to oversee the security operation.

He revealed that the riot was contained, pledging that it “will not happen again.”

He later held talks with Prime Minister Tammam Salam, revealing that an officer has been tasked with carrying out an investigation into Friday's riots.

Earlier, the minister had told the daily al-Mustaqbal: “I will not succumb to their conditions no matter the cost.”

“The events of the past will never be repeated,” Mashnouq stressed.

He added that he had taken a “series of firm and decisive” measures to prevent the re-occurrence of the riots.

These steps include the sanctioning of any officer or guard who is proven to have shortcomings in performing their duties, explained the minister.

Asked about what triggered the riots, he replied: “The inhumane overcrowding at the block is one of the reasons.”

The block is harboring 1,100 prisoners, while it only has the capacity for 400, he revealed.

Mashnouq added that the inmates, led by a prisoner known as Abou Walid, are seeking to replicate the conditions that existed at their previous block B at their new ward.

“The riot is over and it will not reoccur,” he pledged.

The first riot at block D took place on Friday where inmates seized the master key at the facility and opened all doors at the building.

They also briefly held hostage a number of officers.

The families of the detained Islamists later staged a protest in front of the serail in northern city of Tripoli, demanding the resignation of Mashnouq.

Later on Monday, Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat stated that it has become “very pressing” to construct a prison that “respects the minimum amount of human rights.”

“A prisoner is a human and he is entitled to spend his jail time in a place that enjoys the required conditions, especially in regards to achieving the rehabilitation role of the prison,” he explained in his weekly editorial in the PSP-affiliated al-Anbaa website.

“Such qualifications are completely missing in the current prisons in Lebanon that will without doubt witness more riots,” he remarked.

“The government can take the initiative in this regard, most notably because projects to construct new prisons have been placed years ago, but they were halted due to a lack of funds,” the MP noted.

“Such an issue deserves the necessary funds and should be made a priority,” Jumblat stressed.

Roumieh, the oldest and largest of Lebanon's overcrowded prisons, has witnessed sporadic prison breaks and escalating riots in recent years as inmates living in poor conditions demand better treatment.

The Islamist inmates were initially held at block B, but transferred earlier this year to block D, which has better conditions.

Their former ward is under renovation and Mashnouq said that they will be moved back and redistributed once they are complete.



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