Fire threat terror jail forced to close
9 January 2007, AMSTERDAM — The special terrorism wing of the Vught maximum security jail is a fire threat and the first floor of the complex has been ordered to close within a week, it was announced on Tuesday.
9 January 2007
AMSTERDAM — The special terrorism wing of the Vught maximum security jail is a fire threat and the first floor of the complex has been ordered to close within a week, it was announced on Tuesday.
But Vught Mayor Joep Baartmans-Van den Boogaart declined to confirm whether convicted terrorists are being detained on the first floor of the complex.
The closure of the prison wing comes after 11 illegal immigrant detainees were killed in a blaze at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam in October 2005.
Two government ministers later resigned when an investigative report blamed breaches of fire safety regulations for the fatalities.
Since then, all prisons and detention units have undergone tough new safety inspections.
The Vught terrorism prison wing ordered closed is known as unit 1. Considered an historic national monument, the unit is a building from the former Kamp Vught from 1943.
Inspections of the building have determined that is a fire threat. A fire could easily spread from one cell to the other or to the escape routes. There are only a restricted number of exits from the building.
There are no certified fire alarms in the building either. The area of the interior courtyard which could serve as an emergency assembly point is too small, meaning that fire could still pose a risk for inmates.
The closure of the first floor is the first and most far-reaching action of an extensive package of measures that the prison has been ordered to carry out to prevent a permanent closure of the complex.
The corridors on the ground floor, for example, must be fitted with smoke alarms within a week.
Fire resistant measures must then be taken within two months aimed at preventing a quick spread of a fire through the complex.
Within six months, the entire complex must have certified smoke alarms and the cells should be fire resistant for 30 minutes.
Mayor Baartmans-Van den Boogaart said the number of permitted detainees was recently restricted in talks with the Vught municipality.
The prison has also deployed more staff in unit 1 and imposed a general smoking ban.
But after a new, independent inspection, the municipality said the measures were inadequate.
The municipality also said on Tuesday six other units of the prison Nieuw Vosseveld were a fire threat. These units, however, were given temporary permission to remain open.
The mayor said all of the demands were realistic and a spokesman from the Justice Ministry's prisons department said the measures will be carried out within the designated timeframes.
[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2006]
Subject: Dutch news