Prisoners steal keys and riot at French prison

The jail of Vivonne near Poitiers, western France
The jail of Vivonne near Poitiers, western France Guillaume Sauvant/AFP

Dozens of inmates at a prison in central France escaped from their cells and rioted on Monday after stealing the keys of a warden, prison sources said.


A union official told French news agency AFP that "two prisoners jostled a guard and managed to steal his keys, which allowed them to open all the cells". The man said the inmates then set fire to one of the prison buildings and "broke everything". The flames spread through one floor of the three-storey building before firefighters put them out.

Six inmates and five guards of the Vivonne prison in the centre-west town of Poitiers were hospitalised for smoke inhalation. The Vivonne prison is an ultra-modern facility, built in 2009 with a capacity for 578 inmates.

According to a prison source, the incident began after a prisoner was refused parole and encouraged others to rebel with him.

The unrest broke out at 5:00 pm local time and order was restored five hours later, the justice ministry said. Some 60 inmates had refused to return to their cells following the riot.

- with AFP

Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning