Five inmates make dramatic daylight dash from Swiss jail

14th May 2013, Comments 0 comments

Five prisoners made a dramatic escape from a Swiss jail Tuesday, using weapons passed to them from accomplices on the outside to threaten guards and other inmates before scaling the prison wall and disappearing, police said.

"There is an active manhunt for them, and they are listed as wanted both at a national and an international level," police in the canton of Vaud said in a statement.

The five men, one Frenchman, an Albanian, a Bosnian, a Kosovar, as well as Serbian member of the "Pink Panther" gang of international jewel thieves, took just five minutes to get away, the investigators said.

At around 10:20 am (0820 GMT) they were in the walled in courtyard at the Bois-Mermet prison on the outskirts of Lausanne with some 30 other inmates when three masked accomplices on the outside climbed a ladder and threw a bag filled with weapons and other items into the yard.

Grabbing the gun from the bag, the five men threatened the other detainees and the guards and sprayed them with some kind of irritant to keep them away as they used pliers from the bag to cut a hole in the fence blocking their access to the prison wall, which they then climbed using a ladder provided by their accomplices, police said.

A sixth inmate tried to follow them, but guards managed to hold him back as he was climbing the ladder.

The escapees and their accomplices fled the scene in two vehicles.

"The entire operation, which was extremely well-organised, lasted less than five minutes," police said.

The 47-year-old Frenchman had been serving time for robbery and drugs and weapons violations, the 34-year-old Albanian was being held on drugs charges, while the Bosnian, 31, and Kosovar, 22, had been locked up for theft.

Police meanwhile confirmed that the 45-year-old Serb was a convicted member of the so-called Pink Panthers, who are drawn from paramilitary circles in the former Yugoslavia and were given their name after British detectives found a diamond ring hidden in a jar of face cream, echoing an incident in Peter Sellers' 1963 comedy "The Pink Panther".

© 2013 AFP

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