Prisons blocked across France after guards attacked by ‘radicalised’ inmate

From the French edition of The Local

Protesting prison guards blocked jails across France on Wednesday morning after two officers were left seriously wounded in an attack by a “radicalised” inmate. It’s not the first time staff have been targeted by jihadist inmates.

Around 20 prisons were blocked across the country on Wednesday morning after unions representing guards called for action. Protesting prison guards set fire to tyres and built barricades in front of the entrances to the establishments. They vowed the no staff or visitors would gain access to the prisons as they protested to raise the alarm at the dangers they face on daily basis due to the number of radicalised prisoners.

“Colleagues want to go to work but we do not abandon them, we do not send them to die,” a local union leader at the Fleury-Merogis prison outside Paris, Thibault Capelle, told AFP.

The action follows Tuesday’s incident when a “radicalised” inmate at a prison in northwest France seriously wounded two guards in a knife attack.  Prisoner Michael Chiolo and his female partner had been holed up in the family-visiting area of the modern, high-security prison at Conde-sur-Sarthe in Normandy when police moved in and detained them, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said on Twitter. Both were shot and wounded in the operation and “the woman died” of her injuries, As she was pregnant it is unlikely that she would have been searched as rigorously as other visitors 

Chiolo, who was serving a 30-year sentence, is thought to have become a “radicalised” Islamist while in prison. He shouted “Allahu Akhbar” (God is Greatest) during his rampage in the family-visiting area, prison staff representative Alassanne Sall told AFP. ‘It was truly a murder attempt. There was blood everywhere. The family-visiting unit was a battle scene,’  

Elite police units moved in some 10 hours after 27-year-old Chiolo wounded the prison guards with a knife which Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet suggested might have been smuggled into the prison by his partner. “There is no doubt as to the terrorist nature of this attack,” Belloubet told reporters earlier.

The Paris state prosecutor said witness accounts suggest Chiolo ‘wanted to avenge’ Cheriff Chekatt, the Islamist terrorist who was shot dead by police after killing five people and wounding 11 at a Christmas market in the eastern French city of Strasbourg in December.  ‘(He) said he wanted to avenge Cherif Chekatt,’ prosecutor Remy Heitz told reporters. ‘He said he was wearing an explosive belt and threatened to use it.’ The belt turned out to be fake.

During his time in prison he converted to Islam and was radicalised, his lawyer Pauline Brion said. Ms Brion, who described her client as ‘intelligent’ and ‘educated’ said he met his partner while in prison and that he intended to marry her. ‘He had written to someone after converting (to Islam) for them to find him a wife,’ the lawyer told AFP.

While serving time Chiolo had another year added to his sentence for for asking fellow inmates to ‘reenact’ the November 2015 ISIS terror attack on the Bataclan concert hall in Paris. ‘After Paris, I would have carried on in other parts of the country,’ he reportedly told another inmate, according to prison staff.  

The Conde-sur-Sarthe prison is one of France’s most secure jails and does not suffer from overcrowding, unlike other facilities, according to Belloubet. But despite having been identified as an extremist, Chiolo was not housed in a secure wing for radicalised inmates which was opened in September, (and) Despite being described by a judge as a ‘psychopath’ before being handed a 30-year-sentence in 2014 for murdering a Holocaust survivor, Chiolo had been granted regular family visits.


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