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Thursday, 7 June, 2001, 15:03 GMT 16:03 UK
Corsicans prisoners faxed free
Borgo prison
The men were allowed to walk out of Borgo prison

Three prisoners have escaped through the front doors of a Corsican jail after the authorities received a forged fax ordering their release.

An investigation is under way following the release of the men from Borgo prison, France 2 television reported.

The men, who were on remand accused of attempted extortion and firearms offences, have been on the run since they were released on 31 May.

The alarm was not raised for five days until a judge who was investigating their case phoned the prison on the Mediterranean island.

Judge Patrice Camberou
Judge Camberou brought the escape to light
Justice Minister Marylise Lebranchu said: "It's a serious matter and what happened will be looked at closely."

Guards at the prison, near Bastia in the north of the island, released the men after receiving the fax, which was on paper bearing the insignia of another judge's office.

Review ordered

A judicial source was quoted as saying: "To produce these forgeries, access to the files, references, and legal details, which not anyone could have got hold of, were needed."


It could only happen in Corsica

Senior police officer
Daniel Philippon, regional director of the prison authorities, said: "We are going to have to review our practices and get modern equipment."

He added: "The prison population always tries to be one step ahead. It is up to us to anticipate and to adapt."
Corsican police station
Police have launched a probe into escape

Francis Mariani, Pierre-Marie Santucci and Maurice Costa were arrested by Judge Patrice Camberou last July on suspicion of attempted extortion from a restaurant on the island.

They are also suspected of belonging to the infamous Sea Breeze gang in Corsica.

The prison authorities and the criminal investigation police have both launched investigations.

A senior police officer was quoted as saying: "It could only happen in Corsica."

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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28 May 01 | Europe
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