French Prison Protests Following Deadly Ambush and Officer Deaths

French Prison Protests Following Deadly Ambush and Officer Deaths

French prison officers staged protests across the country after gunmen shot and killed two officers, freeing a convict linked to drug-related crimes. The ambush occurred at a Normandy motorway toll.

On Wednesday morning, prison officers blocked entrances and burned pallets and tires at various prisons. A minute’s silence was observed at 11 am to honor the slain officers and support the three others seriously injured in the attack on a prison convoy transporting an inmate between Rouen’s courthouse and Evreux prison on Tuesday.

Over 100 prison officers gathered at a prison near Marseille under a banner reading, “We’re not paid to die.” Many officers planned to provide only minimum service on Wednesday. Unions demanded increased security and limited prisoner transfers between prisons and courthouses.

Officers also expressed concerns about poor conditions and violence in France’s overcrowded prisons. Erwan Saoudi of the FO Justice union said, “When you put three people in a cell that is 9 meters squared and should only hold one person, of course that creates tension and incidents.”

The French justice minister will meet with prison officers’ unions on Wednesday afternoon.

Police and gendarmes continue to search for the escaped convict and gunmen involved in the ambush.

The attack on the prison van occurred late Tuesday morning at a road toll in Incarville in northern France. The inmate, Mohamed Amra, was being transported after a court appearance in Rouen back to his prison in Evreux. The prison van was rammed head-on by a stolen Peugeot, followed by an Audi carrying hooded gunmen who opened fire on both vehicles in the convoy.

The escaped inmate, Amra, was born in 1994 and recently convicted of aggravated robbery and charged with abduction leading to death. French organized crime prosecutors are now handling the case to find the fugitive and his accomplices.

A source close to the case revealed that Amra is suspected of involvement in drug trafficking and ordering gangland killings. His lawyer, Hugues Vigier, expressed shock at the “inexcusable” and “insane” violence, stating that it did not align with his impression of Amra.

The incident coincided with a French Senate report stating that government measures have failed to prevent the flourishing narcotics industry in France. Law and order is a significant issue in French politics ahead of next month’s European elections, and the ambush sparked strong reactions from politicians, particularly the far-right.

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