French prison guards, police clash

May 5, 2009 at 11:00 AM
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PARIS, May 5 (UPI) -- Protesting French prison guards scuffled with police outside two of the country's main prisons Tuesday, witnesses said.

Tear gas was used to disperse demonstrators who had used tires and other objects to blockade the entrance to Fleury Merongis, Europe's biggest prison located on the southwestern fringes of Paris. At La Sante Prison on the city's Left Bank riot police shoved guards aside, The Times of London reported.

The guards' protests began Monday at 80 of France's 194 prisons. Government neglect has made for dangerous situations inside the facilities, the guards say, describing them as overcrowded and in decrepit condition.

French Justice Minister Rachida Dati met union leaders Tuesday to bring an end to the demonstrations, which have disrupted movements of prisoners and have blocked the access of lawyers and other visitors, The Times reported.

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