Two of the three prisoners who escaped from a low-security prison in Ruiselede in West Flanders in the past week have been recaptured in Rotterdam in the Netherlands.
The two men escaped from the Penitentiary Agricultural Centre, a sort of halfway house for prisoners approaching their release. They threatened a prison officer and used a fire extinguisher to force open a door last Friday and escaped.
In an unrelated incident, another man escaped from a shower block on Tuesday. He too was close to being released, and remains at large.
The two men were caught after a routine identity check, a spokesperson for the federal police told Het Nieuwsblad. One of the two was identified as 37-year-old Sven Buysschaert, convicted in 2007 along with two others of taking part in the house robbery of an elderly man who died of his injuries received during the commission of the crime.
Ruiselede is a low-security prison with around 60 detainees, all of whom are close to release. Nevertheless, five prisoners have escaped in the past year, including the three in the past week.
“The prisoners detained in Ruiselede are selected as they present no danger to society, prison spokesperson Kathleen Van de Vijver told the paper. “They are reaching the end of their sentence and preparing to reintegrate into society. Many of them have already been granted a leave of absence.”
The two men recaptured are now being held by Dutch police while an application is made for their return to Belgium. The prison authorities will investigate the escapes to see if procedures have to be made stricter.
In the meantime, the men are likely to be punished for escaping. Prison escapes are not illegal in Belgium, unless they involve violence or threats of violence.