Number of prisoners who escaped Berlin jail rises to nine | News | DW | 02.01.2018
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Germany

Number of prisoners who escaped Berlin jail rises to nine

The German Green party's senator for justice in Berlin has said more prisoners broke out of the facility than initially reported. Seven of the men remain at large, after one was apprehended and another turned himself in.

The German Green party's senator for justice for Berlin, Dirk Behrendt, said on Tuesday that as many as nine prisoners had escaped from Berlin's Plötzensee prison in days between Christmas and New Year.

The prison facility in Berlin's Charlottenburg district had initially announced late Monday that two men had escaped that day through the window of a neighboring cell, and that five had escaped within that week.

However, Behrendt disclosed that two more prisoners had escaped over the weekend, while two others had been at larges since last Thursday.

Read more: Former 'Mister Germany' facing life prison for attempted murder of policeman

It remained unclear whether the men had broken out of the facility or had simply not returned following a day of authorized work outside of the from prison

Officials own up for the first five

Last Thursday, justice officials said that two prisoners broke out through a ventilation gap in the wall, after having managed to make a hole in the wall using a power tool stolen from the prison's car repair shop.

Meanwhile, another inmate failed to return by Friday evening after a parole day. Monday's escape took the total up to five.

Most of the men were reportedly imprisoned for aggravated assault, theft and burglary.

However, by Tuesday one of the escapees had reportedly turned themselves in, while another was apprehended by police.

Calls for Behrendt resignation

The spate of escapes from Plötzensee led calls on Tuesday for Behrendt's resignation, including from within his own governing coalition. "Who wants to go again, who hasn't yet? This would actually be a reason for a senator for justice to resign," tweeted Joschka Langenbrinck, a lawmakers for the Social Democrats (SPD) in Berlin's state parliament.

The German capital has been governed by a coalition made up of the SPD, the Greens and the Left Party since last year. 

However, there were also vocal calls for Behrendt's resignation from the opposition, as Berlin's Christian Democrats said that the justice senator's position was "no longer tenable."

A spokesperson for Behrendt defended the minister's position and track record, saying that the number of escaped prisoners had not increased under his watch. In 2016, before Behrendt became senator for justice, there were 43 recorded breakouts, compared to 42 in 2017. Those two years, however, indicated a significant increase in the number of escapes since 2010. 

Security review

At least two of the prisoners were expected to be released by September 2018 while the others were set to be freed by October 2020.

According to authorities, the multiple jailbreaks prompted the prison to conduct an internal security review to determine the circumstances that allowed for multiple incidents.

Read more: Cologne judge clears prison guards in toilet escape case 

Roughly 360 prisoners are housed in the jail, which was built in the late 1800s and became notorious during the Nazi regime.

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dm, ls/se (dpa, AFP)

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