“At the request of the mayor of Vught and Minister Weerwind for Legal Protection, Minister Harbers of Infrastructure and Water Management has decided to temporarily close the airspace above the penitentiary in Vught,” a spokeswoman for the department reported.
The reason for the closure is ‘an increased risk of detainees attempting to escape via the air’. “Tackling organized crime leads to an increase in the arrests of a ‘outside category’ of serious criminals. These individuals realize that long prison terms lie ahead. Bribery, blackmail and extremely violent escape attempts are scenarios that the Custodial Institutions Agency is taking into account.”
No acute risk
It is not an acute risk, says the spokeswoman. “That is why the temporary flight ban will come into effect from 1 July next.” Yet the moment of the measure is striking. In the Marengo trial, the Public Prosecution Service (OM) demanded life imprisonment on Tuesday against the main suspect Ridouan Taghi and four co-defendants. Taghi is imprisoned in Vught. Insiders claim that the decision has nothing to do with that sentence.
“The ban also combats the collection of information about the infrastructure of the prison through, for example, aerial photographs,” said the spokeswoman for Justice and Security. “It also further restricts the possibilities of aircraft to bring contraband into the prison, such as weapons, drugs and mobile phones.”
The airspace closure is ‘temporary in nature and can be extended if there is reason to do so’. “The measure comes on top of the existing measures in place to maintain security and order in a prison, such as designating the area around the prison as a security risk area, CCTV surveillance and additional police surveillance.”
The decision states that flying is prohibited within 3,700 meters of the prison. The flight ban applies to a height of approximately 450 meters for all civil aircraft, but also drones and model aircraft. Police planes and helicopters are not included, nor are helicopter flights for emergency medical care.
The measures will expire – without extension – on January 1, 2023.