Prisoner escape operation raids the “garage” of the Palace of Justice in Beirut

Once again, the “Adliya Bridge” prison in Beirut returns to the fore, after a mass escape of prisoners, as it has become known for its lack of minimum human rights standards, and human rights defenders have long condemned the violations taking place there against Syria. refugees and migrant workers. Detained foreign women, especially as it is located under a motor bridge and was originally designed to be a “garage” for cars, and the Lebanese General Security essentially turned it into a prison for Arab and foreign prisoners, before finally came under the authority of the prison administration in Lebanon.

The final escape was preceded by a first escape attempt due to the damage to the bridge after the explosion of the port of Beirut, after which a force of riot police intervened in the Internal Security Forces and rained tear gas on detainees in glasses, and the “garage” was transformed into a prison during the period of the Syrian guardianship over the city of Lebanon, where political activists, especially dissident students, were arrested in universities.

The biography of the “Adliya Bridge” prison tells about several chapters of human rights violations in Lebanon, ranging from political rights to human rights, and the extent of discrimination against foreign prisoners. The Committee for the Prevention of Torture has previously issued several reports calling for the “garage” to be closed. The last one was several months ago.

In the details, Beirut woke up on the morning of Sunday the seventh of August to a major escape operation carried out by 31 prisoners from the cell near the General Security Building under the Adliya Bridge in Beirut, where initial accounts indicated that the prisoners had ‘ implemented a very strict plan and crossed several barriers. They made holes in the cement wall separating two cells, and fled through it in unknown directions, and the security forces officially announced the following, with brief news, “31 detainees managed to escape under the Beirut Justice Palace bridge, and immediate orders have been given to arrest them, and the investigation is ongoing under the supervision of the competent judiciary.” “.

outside help

The escape operation raised doubts about the possibility that the incident was orchestrated by security communications, as the “Adliya Bridge” prison is located in a high security area, as it is steps away from the headquarters of Public Security, the Internal Security Forces and the State Security apparatus, although in practice it is under the management of the Internal Security Forces. In addition to the presence of surveillance cameras around the entrances, roads and adjacent alleys, it is difficult for 31 fugitives to hide from view in this area.

According to the available information, a large number of fugitives were transferred to this cell only a few days ago, which means that they are not supposed to have sufficient experience or knowledge of the nature of the place, which raises questions whether they received help from outside. , and they are of various nationalities, including Lebanese, Syrians, Palestinians and foreigners.

The Internal Security Forces are reticent to release any details about the operation so far, as they step up their patrols in and outside the area to track down the fugitives whose names have been published.

Security arrest

An official security source in Adliya prison denied rumors that inmates were given a saw or a sharp machine to dismantle the iron defenses of one of the prison windows, revealing that preliminary investigations indicate that one of the inmates ‘ obtained a “screw” which he used. to spread one of the iron bars of the window, and that The prisoners took turns in the unfolding process, which may have taken at least two days. He stressed that investigations continue to find out whether there is collusion between security elements and the prisoners, indicating the arrest of two members of the internal security forces responsible for the guarding pending investigation, adding that investigations involving a number of fugitives who returned -arrested, which is three, can reveal more details Details of the escape, planners, participants and accomplices.

Regarding the prison’s failure to control the mass escape, he suggested that one of the main reasons was the power outage and the control of darkness outside the prison, which borders a main road in Beirut, in addition to the timing of the escape, at dawn it was Sunday, which happens to be a holiday and the possibility of prisoners hiding in buildings and alleys adjacent to the prison, and he pointed out that the fugitives were not among the wanted men and that their arrest was due to the crimes of pickpocketing. theft and drugs, stressing that the Information Department arrested three of those who escaped, while a fourth person surrendered himself. Therefore, there are 27 fugitives who are being tracked and monitored.

Immediate closure of the prison

For his part, the head of the Human Rights Committee, MP Michel Moussa, considered in a statement that “the escape of prisoners from Adliya prison is unacceptable, and many questions hover around it,” wondering about “how this large number of prisoners escape from a place that is supposed to be guarded by security, which is already guarded.” Locked up with iron plates? Moussa demanded the immediate closure of this prison, as well as the judiciary to speed up acquittals, a chronic demand to reduce overcrowding in prisons.

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A member of the National Commission for Human Rights, Bassam Al-Kuntar, also criticized the reality of the “Adliya Bridge” prison, which he considers an underground “garage”. He said that the prisoners inside “can’t see the sun and can’t go out to an outside courtyard,” explaining that “the glasses are usually for temporary detention, but in the eyes of this prison, there have been detainees for 18 months .” He added that this prison has turned into a detention center that violates the most prominent international standards, including the minimum standards for the treatment of prisoners and the Convention against Torture, and therefore the Lebanese state, through this garage as a detention center and under the order of the Lebanese judiciary, “commits a long-standing crime related to torture and treatment that degrades and degrades human dignity.”

Underground

According to the head of Legal Agenda, lawyer Ghaida Franjieh, the “garage” in which the glasses are located lacks the minimum standards of safety and health, as it is intended to be an underground parking lot and does not qualify as a detention center for people . She explained that the “garage” was previously used by the General Directorate of Public Security to detain foreigners, but the Directorate abandoned it in 2016 after the objection to the conditions of detention there, and its glasses to a new building moved. She said: “We were then surprised that the garage was made available to the internal security forces to use as a temporary detention center belonging to the Palace of Justice in Beirut.” Since then, many detainees have been held in pre-trial detention in Beirut. were deprived of light and clean air, and Franjieh appealed to the Internal Security Forces to stop using this The “garage” as a place of detention, stressing that the solution to the overcrowding in prisons and glasses not is to use the “garage” to create detention centers that violate the standards for the treatment of prisoners, its necessity before trial and the degree to which the detainee poses a danger to society.

On the other hand, the sources of the “Prison Administration in Lebanon” indicated that this guard was received from the Lebanese General Security after numerous reports from human rights organizations, and the prison administration worked to turn it into a temporary detention guard, especially since most hearings take place in the Palace of Justice, and to facilitate the transfer of detainees to the courts in the circumstances Lebanon is going through. And she saw that the number of detainees in this guard is not more than 200, and most of them are awaiting trial procedures before being transferred to specialized prisons, explaining that the reason for the high number of detainees and the sometimes exceeding of the period of their detention because pretrial detention is due to the delay in hearings due to public sector strikes that are paralyzing most official departments.

reassure the state

In this context, the pioneers of social networking sites circulated a comment written by one of the prisoners on the news published by the Lebanese authorities about the escape of prisoners. He said he was “fine and with his family in Syria,” sparking a wave of ridicule and controversy among followers

robbery and beating

Lebanon has previously seen several prison escapes, the most recent of which was in November 2020 from the Baabda Justice Palace, east of Beirut, which caused the death of five prisoners who had a traffic accident during the escape operations, after robbing a taxi , and then about 70 prisoners and detainees escaped from prisons. The prison, after beating a policeman, and the security forces cordoned off the perimeter of the Palace of Justice in Baabda and the surrounding area in an attempt to go to a number of escaped prisoners. , and actually managed to re-arrest 20 of them.

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