Three prisoners used a table leg to pierce a hole in the roof
of their cell in a 14th century French penitentiary and
escape in the early ours of New Year's Day, a regional
The three climbed onto the roof of the Colmar prison in
eastern France and from there entered an adjoining
courthouse, where they fled through a side door.
The escape highlighted overcrowding and the advanced state of
disrepair of an institution originally built in 1316 as a
convent, according to prosecutor Bernard Lebeau.
"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," he
told journalists in Colmar.
The prisoners, 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.
Poor conditions at the Colmar prison were flagged last week
in an independent report commissioned by a lawyer, who said
he would sue to make local authorities repair the facility.