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Roumieh inmates riot to demand WiFi, cell phones

Source: The Daily Star – BEIRUT: Inmates demanding WiFi and cell phones rioted inside a Roumieh Prison facility Tuesday, a security source told The Daily Star, prompting security forces to intervene.

The source said the Interior Ministry’s adviser for prisoner affairs, Mounir Shaaban, the head of the ISF’s prison command George Elias and the ISF’s Mount Lebanon bureau chief Jihad Hoyaek were called in to oversee negotiations with the prisoners.

Police had sent reinforcements to try to quell the riot, the source added. He said drug convicts orchestrated the riot to demand improved conditions in the prison’s Block A.

Among their demands are communication technologies including Internet and cell phones, the source said.

The violence comes days after videos leaked online showing members of Lebanon’s Internal Security Officers torturing inmates in the prison, but it was not clear if Tuesday’s riot is related to the scandal.

The riot comes on the same day that the head of the Internal Security Force’s Information Branch vowed to block attempts to usher Lebanon’s largest prison back to an era of impunity.

Roumieh Prison has been the scene of repeated riots in past years, with inmates protesting crowded cells and slow trials.

The largest riot occurred in April 2011, when inmates set their beds on fire and broke down cell doors to protest poor living conditions.

Roumieh’s notorious Block B building was temporarily emptied and shut down after a large-scale police operation in January.

Inmates had enjoyed relative autonomy in Block B and prevented security forces from entering.

After the clearing operation took place, television footage showed that prisoners had no cell doors and operated a barber shop and a coffee shop in Block B.

Footage also showed inmates in Block B had a large amount of electronic equipment, including TV sets and mobile phones.

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