Beirut - April 02, 2011
Prisoners demanding an amnesty and better conditions rioted and set fire to bedding in Lebanon's notorious main prison of Rumieh on Saturday, the interior ministry said in a statement.
"Riots have been going on for hours in the central prison of Rumieh by a number of prisoners demanding a general amnesty and better conditions of detention," the statement said.
A security official told AFP prisoners at the jail some 12 kilometres (eight miles) northeast of Beirut set fire to mattresses and broke doors and windows in one building in the compound.
"Some prisoners suffered from smoke inhalation and others were injured by broken glass," the official said.
Security reinforcements were sent to Rumieh as negotiations began with the inmates, the same source said.
The interior ministry said it had been working to improve conditions at the facility for the past two years and urged other ministries and the cabinet to follow suit by speeding up the trials process and providing finance.
Poor conditions in prisons and a slow judicial process have sparked several riots in Lebanon's prisons down the years. Some prisoners can be incarcerated for years before their cases come to court.
Rumieh was originally built to house 1,500 inmates but is today crammed with more than 4,000 men -- 65 percent of the country's prison population.