In France’s very own version of the Great Escape, three dastardly criminals housed in a single tiny cell at the Colmar prison managed to escape incarceration…with the use of only a table leg.
The trio used the table leg, removed from the rest of the table (naturally), to poke a hole through the ceiling of their cell and climb onto the roof. From there they scarpered, ‘Parkour’ style, over the rooftops and onto the neighbouring Court House. They entered from the roof into the court house and exited, un-assailed, through a side door in the early hours of New Year’s Day.
The three men, aged 19 to 24, had been jailed on charges of assault and vandalism. Two were detained awaiting trial, while the third was serving a two-year term.
The French prosecutor on the case told of the New Year’s escape:
“It appears that the ceilings in the cells are made of a crumbly material that was attacked with a makeshift tool made of objects from the cell itself, notably a table leg,”
According to him, the escape highlighted overcrowding and the dilapidated state of an institution originally built in 1316 as a convent. According to a judicial report issued in December 2012, the ‘crumbly’ state of the ceilings was not isolated. The building is “in an advanced state of decay” and heating is “very basic, if not nonexistent,”
The prison building, with a capacity of 120 inmates, was repurposed into a jail in the 18th century – almost 500 years after its original construction. Its location is right in the picturesque heart of Colmar, a booming trade hub of the Holy Roman Empire at the time of its first construction.
Unfortunately, Colmar prison is developing something of a reputation and doesn’t seem to be learning from its mistakes. According to a local newspaper, in 2004 three inmates escaped from the prison in the very same way. In 2009, another inmate escaped by sawing through a beam.
Now the lawyer who compiled the aforementioned judicial report is threatening to sue the institution, to ensure that repair works are carried out before yet more serious criminals manage to escape.
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