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France taken to court for rat and cockroach-infested prison

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France taken to court for rat and cockroach-infested prison
A cell at the rat-infested Fresnes prison. Photo: AFP
08:28 CEST+02:00
Campaigners filed a complaint against the French state Monday, denouncing overcrowding and filthy conditions in a prison near Paris infested with rats, cockroaches and bedbugs.

The French-based International Prisons Observatory (OIP) backed its complaint with statements from inmates at Fresnes prison, 15 kilometres (nine miles) south of Paris.

"We are infested with bedbugs, bitten every night on the face, on the neck, the shoulders, the back, the legs and the arms," said one inmate, in documents seen by AFP.

(AFP)

Another prisoner described the stench of dead rats, while another said he had to share his cell with up to 300 cockroaches.

The complaint was filed at a court in Melun, about 40 kilometres (25 miles) southeast of Paris, said the OIP. The case has been fast-tracked for a Wednesday hearing, said a clerk at the court.

The OIP has previously warned about overcrowding in French prisons, where the number of inmates soared this summer to 68,819 people for 58,507 places.

The government has also announced a major building programme to tackle the overcrowding problem.

The OIP said conditions were particularly bad at Fresnes, where 2,800 inmates are crammed into a jail with a capacity of only 1,607.

At the end of May, the authorities confirmed to the OIP two cases of leptospirosis in prisoners, an infection mainly transmitted by rats.

A justice ministry spokesman told AFP that measures had been taken to tackle the rat infestation, but that the process would take time.

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