At Least 20 inmates on hunger strike hospitalized

BEIRUT: At least 20 inmates of Beirut’s notorious Roumieh prison complex, mainly prisoners on hunger strike demanding general amnesty, were hospitalized overnight, a security source told The Daily Star Thursday.

The source dismissed local media reports which said as many as 40 prisoners had fallen ill as a result of the hunger strike.

“We often have prisoners falling sick. Last night about 20 inmates, mostly those who are on a hunger strike, felt nauseous and were taken to nearby hospitals,” said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “They were treated and returned [to prison] right away.”

The prisoners’ chaplain, Father Marwan Ghanem, could not confirm the report of sickness among Roumieh’s inmates.

But he told The Daily Star that the number of inmates on hunger strike at Roumieh prison, 12 kilometers northeast of Beirut, had risen to 2,373, since 2,000 began the strike Friday.

Ghanem said up to 2,500 Roumieh prisoners have been in detention without trial for long periods.

While Ghanem hailed the Interior Ministry reforms, he voiced disappointment with the Justice Ministry’s “slow” progress on trials for those detained.

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