World News 15 Mayıs 2024

Prison officers killed in 'The Fly' ambush named – as victim's father says attack 'must not go unpunished'

Two prison officers who were killed in an attack on a police convoy in France have been named – as Interpol issued a red notice search warrant for escaped prisoner Mohamed Amra, nicknamed “The Fly”.

Dad-of-two Fabrice Moello, 52, and soon-to-be-father Arnaud Garcia, 34, were killed and three others seriously wounded when the convoy transporting Amra from court to jail was ambushed at a motorway tollbooth near Rouen in Normandy by gunmen wearing balaclavas.

Fabrice Moello and Arnaud Garcia

Amra – a suspected drug boss – is at the centre of the police manhunt for the perpetrators of the attack after escaping from the prison van during the assault.

Several hundred police officers have been deployed nationwide to find the 30-year-old convict and gunmen. It is unclear how many assailants were involved.

CCTV footage showed a black Peugeot SUV driving into the front of the white prison van, with other video showing at least two armed men carrying rifles circling the car in flames on the A154 motorway.

French media reports suggested a second car used during the attack was a Sedan – stolen in the town of Pontault-Combault in northern France – which had been following the convoy and together with the SUV trapped the prison van.

The two cars were later found torched a few miles away.

Mohamed Amra

Mr Moello, a married father of twins, held the rank of captain and had joined the prison service in 1996, according to French media reports.

Mr Garcia was also married and had been a brigadier supervisor since November 2009.

His father told French radio network RTL his son loved his job as he called for a firm response from the government.

“My son was murdered! This ambush was worked on, prepared, premeditated,” said Dominique Garcia. “This act must not go unpunished.”

Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti told BFM TV: “Absolutely everything will be done to find the perpetrators of this despicable crime.

“These are people for whom life means nothing. They will be arrested, judged and punished according to the crime they committed.”

He added two of the three injured officers are in a critical condition.

The attack has sparked a nationwide outcry – with a day of blockades dubbed “Dead Prisons Day” announced in jails across France today as prison officer unions respond in anger to Tuesday’s attack.

Local media on Wednesday reported demonstrations outside of prisons across the country – including in the French capital Paris, Rouen, Nice, Grasse, Draguignan and Amiens.

CCTV footage showing a gunman at the scene. Pic: Snapchat/Yan78780

‘It was a massacre’

In Yvelines, 130 people blocked a remand centre and set fire to wooden pallets, Le Parisien reported.

Inside, around 15 prison staff went about their everyday jobs – compared with the 40 usually onsite.

In addition, the day’s prisoner transportations and visits were cancelled, according to the newspaper.

Hubert Gratraud, a union representative, said: “There is an awareness of the dangerousness. We need resources and training. We need to get as close as possible to the reality on the ground: anything can happen.”

“People were shot at point-blank range, it was a massacre, a butchery,” said Ronan Roudaut, another union official.

A minute’s silence was also held across the French criminal justice system including prisons and courtrooms at 11am local time in addition to the symbolic 24-hour shutdown of jails.

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Outside Evreux jail a man lit candles for the guards killed and injured in the prison van ambush – and for his pal who was shot dead in a shooting he blamed on Amra.

He took seven tea lights from his pockets and laid them in a line beside the towering, metal jail doors, his hands shaking as he lit the wicks.

The man, who would not give his name, told Sky’s crime correspondent Martin Brunt: “I’ve come here because that man killed my friend and I’m here to honour the others he killed yesterday.”

He said his friend was one of two men killed in a car attacked by gunmen on an estate in Evreux last year, an attack he said was one of the various alleged crimes Amra was being question about.

Wooden pallets are set on fire as prison staff block the entrance of a detention centre in Val De Reuil, France. Pic: Reuters

‘Assassination attempt’

Police sources said fugitive gangster Amra was involved in international drug dealing, a suspect in a kidnap and murder case in Marseille, and had ties to the city’s powerful “Blacks” gang.

He had recently been sentenced to 18 months for burglary in the suburbs of Evreux, northwest France, reported BFM TV.

The French broadcaster said his nickname was La Mouche – or “The Fly” in English.

A prison source told Le Parisien that Amra tried to saw the bars off his cell a few days ago – with the criminal reportedly put in solitary confinement afterwards.

The publication said he is suspected of having ordered an assassination attempt – linked to drugs – targeting a Frenchman in Spain in the summer of 2023.

It added Amra, born in Rouen in northern France, was also re-evaluated as ‘Escort 3’ risk category, making more guards necessary during transportation.

Read more: Who is ‘The Fly’?

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CCTV shows French prison van attack

Dangerous fugitive’s mum speaks

Amra’s mother told RTL she had no idea her son had planned an escape.

“I went to Baumettes to see him, he was in solitary confinement, I went to [the prison of] Evreux once. He spoke normally, he didn’t show me anything. I don’t understand,” she said.

“They carry him around from right to left, they put him in solitary confinement instead of judging him once and for all.”

She said she “broke down” and “cried” when she found out what had happened.

“It makes me sick. How can lives be taken like that?” she said of the two fatalities.

“I don’t know what’s going on in his head, he’s not talking to me. He’s my son and he doesn’t talk to me about anything,” she added.

‘We’re on a path to Mexicanisation’

Right-wing politicians said the brazenness of the assault showed the government had lost its grip on drug crime, comparing France to countries with longstanding reputations for endemic gang violence.

“We’re on a path to Mexicanisation,” Bruno Retailleau, leader of the main centre-right opposition party in the French senate, said in a radio interview.

The attack came on the same day the senate released a report on drug trafficking, warning the country faced a “tipping point” from rising violence.

We must “catch the bastards who did this and put them out of harm’s way,” said French politician Adrien Quatennens on Sud Radio.


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