Hunt for escaped prisoners ongoing

Justice Minister Antonis Roupakiotis says it's time to redesign the security plan for the country's prisons

Trikala prison guards stand watch in a guard tower Trikala prison guards stand watch in a guard tower Greece needs to redesign the security plan of the country’s prisons. So said Justice Minister Antonis Roupakiotis as police manhunt continues in central Greece for eight of the 11 men who broke out of the Trikala prison on Saturday after gunmen brazenly attacked the guards outside the prison with grenades and automatic weapons.

"Until now we were worried that inmates would escape from the inside, because this was the danger. Now we have to redesign the security plan of the prisons, because as it seems with the new form that organized crime has taken, there is a risk of attacks coming from the outside to help inmates escape," added Roupakiotis.

The gunmen outside used two vehicles and “very heavy weapons”, according to the justice ministry. They attacked the prison's outside guards, as well as a prison patrol vehicle and two police cars. The exchange of fire lasted over a half an hour. Two prison guards were shot and wounded, police said. One of the watchtowers was riddled with bullet holes.

Justice Minister Antonis Roupakiotis at the Trikala prison Justice Minister Antonis Roupakiotis at the Trikala prison Only three of the escapees were captured by the police.

Officials identified the escapees as Flaulant Luli (age 27), Edison Lika (25), Ilir Kupa (27) Marian Kola or Kolia (35), Klement Cala (25), Admir or Kristaq Murataj or Murati (41), Ermal or Litor Lita or Drebata (34), or Fatos Ulaz or Sylaz or Braha (31) ετών. All are Albanian nationals.

Shortly after the prison break, guards swept the compound. They discovered mobile telephones and about a dozen makeshift knives.

It has been reported in the local media that the escapees used the blades to cut the bars and tied their sheets and blankets to scale down the prison wall.

Last month, guards foiled a breakout attempt by four inmates who tried to escape by helicopter from Trikala prison, including notorious Greek inmate Panagiotis Vlastos, who is serving life for murder and racketeering. Gunmen in the helicopter had fired on guards in the February 24 incident and lowered a rope in to the courtyard, but the chopper was forced to land after being hit by returned gunfire.

In a separate incident on March 17, a convicted contract killer, Albanian inmate Alket Rizaj, took several prison guards hostage in an attempt to escape from another prison in central Greece. The attempt was unsuccessful and the hostages were released unharmed following a 24-hour standoff.

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