Mystery tunnels baffle Paris prison authorities

1st September 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Sept 1 (AFP) - At least three reinforced tunnels were discovered earlier this month under Paris's only prison complex, prompting an inquiry as to their origin and purpose, a judicial source told AFP on Wednesday.

PARIS, Sept 1 (AFP) - At least three reinforced tunnels were discovered earlier this month under Paris's only prison complex, prompting an inquiry as to their origin and purpose, a judicial source told AFP on Wednesday.  

Authorities were alerted to the existence of the tunnels by inmates who heard noises underground at night, the source said.  

The recently dug tunnels run horizontally several meters underneath the Prison de la Sante, an aging complex located in southern Paris' 14th arrondissement that has been nicknamed "the sieve" due to frequent escapes.  

It is not clear, however, whether the crudely reinforced tunnels - which do not communicate at any point with the prison - were linked to any planned or attempted escape, the source said.  

Two of the tunnels pass underneath guard towers, and the third under the main entrance of the prison.  

Prison guard unions claim that the tunnels uncovered are in fact catacomb passageways that have been reopened, and are not freshly dug.   

The catacomb byways some 15 meters under the prison had all been sealed off due to their sensitive location. Of the 250 kilometers (155 miles) of catacombs crisscrossing beneath Paris, 50 kilometers running under various administrative centres were blocked off in the late 1960s.    

Completed in 1867, the Prison de la Sante became the focus of criticism and controversy after the publication in 2000 of a book by the former chef physician of the prison, Veronique Vasseur, that revealed rampant violence and terrible sanitary conditions.

 

© AFP

Subject: French news

0 Comments To This Article