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HOSTAGE

Two guards freed at French prison as hostage standoff ends

An inmate armed with a homemade weapon took two guards hostage at a high-security prison in northwest France on Tuesday before both were freed unharmed five hours later, authorities said.

Two guards freed at French prison as hostage standoff ends
Police tactical units arrived by helicopter as the hostage situation unfolded. Photo: AFP
Police tactical units arrived by helicopter as the hostage situation unfolded at the Conde-sur-Sarthe Penitentiary Centre, which holds dangerous or radicalised prisoners and those with serious discipline problems.
   
The prisoner, armed with the improvised weapon, had taken the guard and the female trainee hostage during meal time, officials said.
   
The guard was released first and then the female trainee was also freed, both “safe and sound”, before the prisoner surrendered, the national Prison Administration Directorate said.
 
Photo: AFP
   
No further details were immediately available about how the guards were freed or whether it involved a negotiation.
   
A justice ministry source said the inmate has a history of psychiatric problems and hostage taking. He has convictions for robbery, rape and for the murder of a prison cellmate.
   
Elite police units had arrived at the prison by three helicopters, an AFP photographer at the scene said.
   
Security measures were increased in Conde-sur-Sarthe after a prisoner stabbed two guards with a homemade knife in March. After failed negotiations to end a standoff, security units launched an assault, wounding the prisoner.

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ENVIRONMENT

France to punish ‘eco-cide’ with prison up to 10 years

France will make serious intentional damage to the environment punishable by up to 10 years in prison as part of planned "eco-cide" law, government ministers said in remarks published Sunday.

France to punish 'eco-cide' with prison up to 10 years
Barbara Pompili. Photo: AFP

The law was one recommendation from a Citizens' Convention for the Climate, a group created by the government a year ago, bringing together 150 people from the French population to discuss the environment.

An “eco-cide” offence would be sanctioned by up to 4.5 million euros in fines or up to 10 years in prison in cases of “intentional violation” of environmental laws, Justice Minister Eric Dupont-Moretti and Ecological Transition Minister Barbara Pompili told the JDD weekly.

“We are going to create a general pollution offence,” Dupont-Moretti said.

“Punishment will be staggered according to a perpetrator's intentions.”

The aim was to fine violators of environmental laws “up to 10 times the profit they would have generated by throwing waste into the river”, he said.

 

The French constitution did not allow the qualification of such actions as “crimes”, just offences, Dupont-Moretti said.

France will also add an offence called “endangering the environment” to its statute books, Pompili said, under which potential offenders could be punished even before committing acts of illegal pollution.

Environmental expertise within the French judiciary will be beefed up to allow courts to improve their handling of pollution cases and civil claims, including by creating special environmental jurisdictions, Dupont-Moretti said.

The citizens' convention has submitted 149 proposals to cut greenhouse gas emissions to President Emmanuel Macron, who said he would convert 146 of them into government policy.

 
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