Calm returned to Merksplas prison at around 5.45am on Sunday morning, after a very busy night. The prison holds 600 prisoners. Several areas of the institution were damaged, and remain unusable. Around a hundred prisoners were transferred to others prisons, says Frank Wilrycx (Open Vls), the mayor of Merksplas. He again called for urgent investment in the prison. Two prisoners received medical attention.
“The night walk around took place at 7.30pm on Saturday, and 200 didn’t want to go back”, the mayor said. “Prisoners started fires, walls were torn down, windows were broken, and doors were forced open. Some of the blocks are unusable, and will be for several months”.
“I’ve never seen this before”, added Frank Wilrycx. “A fire was started when people were still in their cells. This is a serious offense, and there will no doubt be an investigation. Luckily, only two prisoners needed medical attention, for smoke inhalation”.
Federal and local police, backed by special intervention units, finally rounded up the rebelling prisoners in a corner of the walking zone, so they could take them all back at once.
Around a hundred prisoners were transferred to other prisons last night, as many cells were unusable. Calm returned at around 5.45am on Sunday.
This riot has nothing to do with the current strike in Brussels and Walloon prisons, which started 13 days ago. Prisoners want the authorities to listen to them more.
Mayor Wilrycx said he was very worried about last night’s events. He has been calling for more investment in the prison for a long time. “The prison is really old. It dates back to the 19th century. It needs urgent investment. I hope it will come soon”.