French prison official freed after hostage drama

9th September 2015, Comments 0 comments

The deputy governor of a high-security prison in northern France was taken hostage by a "particularly dangerous inmate" Wednesday but was later released unharmed, officials said.

The hostage-taker, identified as Fabrice Boromee, was considered so dangerous when he arrived at Vendin-le-Vieil jail in May that those in charge of keeping watch over him were given special protection gear, unions representing prison workers told AFP.

In an interview with a French TV channel in June, the prisoner had said he was desperate to return to the French overseas territory of Guadeloupe, his home.

He was reportedly jailed in 2010 in Guadeloupe for a scooter theft that turned violent, and was later transferred to mainland France.

Boromee was being held in isolation at Vendin-le-Vieil, a next-generation prison that houses some of France's most dangerous criminals -- one of only six in the country to do so.

He seized the deputy governor, identified as Fabrice Bels, at around 11:00 am (0900 GMT) in the jail's isolation unit.

Authorities in the Pas-de-Calais region and union sources said Boromee was thought to be armed with a home-made weapon and security forces had gone to the prison to "carry out negotiations and a possible intervention."

Bels was later released safe and sound, officials said. It was unclear whether Boromee had given himself up or whether police had overpowered him.

With some 238 places -- although there are currently only 51 inmates in the jail -- Vendin-le-Vieil only opened this year and the building contains "highly sophisticated safety features," according to the justice ministry.

© 2015 AFP

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