SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Four men have been arrested after a van was set on fire outside a prison in an apparent bid to break out an Amsterdam gangster.
The thwarted plan on Sunday morning was reported to be an attempt to free Omar L., who is serving a life sentence for his involvement in several gangland murders and attempted murders in the capital.
L.’s lawyer, Sander Janssen, confirmed that his client was transferred on Sunday from Zutphen prison to the high-security jail in Vught, but gave no further details. A white van was parked against the gates of Zutphen jail, in Gelderland, and set ablaze, damaging the gates.
Police pursued a getaway vehicle to Zevenaar, near the German border, where one of the four suspects got out and tried to flee on foot. The car was eventually stopped in Wehl after police fired warning shots and arrested three of the suspects. The fourth was apprehended in Zevenaar.
Police zoned off the area and pursued the car with the aid of a helicopter, border police and their German counterparts. A spokesman said: ‘It is a violent incident. We did everything we could to arrest the suspects as quickly as possible.’
The incident was reminiscent of another attempted prison break in 2017, when a gang hijacked a helicopter and tried to break into a prison in Roermond where another Amsterdam gangster, Benaouf A., was being detained.
Police discovered the plot in advance and arrested three men as they were about to carry it out. Eight prisoners managed to escape from jail between 2011 and 2017, while in 2018 a 26-year-old man slipped out of De Schie prison in Rotterdam by hiding in a giant blue bin bag.
Another prisoner who was being released carried him out in the bag, which he was given to take his belongings home in. Breaking out of prison is currently not illegal in the Netherlands, although assisting an escape is.
The government wants to change the law so that prisoners who abscond have to serve longer sentences when they return.