BEIRUT: Prison officials have contained a riot that erupted at Lebanon’s largest prison, the Internal Security Forces said Wednesday.
Police said no one was hurt in the riot which saw Islamist inmates set mattresses on fire.
One police officer, who spoke to The Daily Star Wednesday on condition of anonymity, said the riot broke out around 6 p.m. Tuesday after Islamist inmates at Roumieh’s Bloc B facility burned mattresses.
“They set a few mattresses on fire. It wasn’t a big fire and no one was hurt,” the officer said by telephone.
He said the unrest was contained after roughly two hours of negotiations.
Commenting on the prison riot late Tuesday, Interior Minister Marwan Charbel said the disturbance was sparked by a protest over officers tallying the number of Islamist prisoners held at the detention facility.
“During the counting of Islamist prisoners at Roumieh prison, they expressed dismay at the census which resulted in some form of chaos,” Charbel told a local radio station.
Islamist inmates have repeatedly rioted at Roumieh and demanded speedy trials.
Lebanon’s prosecutor Hatem Madi announced Saturday that the long-awaited trials for dozens of suspected Fatah al-Islam members would begin in February of this year.
Madi attributed the delay in commencing the trials to the completion of the courtroom at Roumieh.
He told The Daily Star Saturday that there are 480 individuals suspected of involvement in the 2007 battle with the Lebanese Army in the northern Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared. Of those, around 200 are awaiting trial in Roumieh, according to Madi. Others are wanted, or have died or escaped from the prison.