What sparked savage jail attack on Mokbel
DRUG lord Tony Mokbel is tonight fighting for survival after a brutal prison ambush.
The 53-year-old crime kingpin was in intensive care at the Royal Melbourne Hospital after being stabbed inside maximum-security Barwon Prison, near Geelong.
Mokbel and a 31-year-old man were set upon by two other inmates in a mainstream unit at 3.45pm.
The Herald Sun understands the other man had rushed to Mokbel's aid. The incident unfolded just 15 minutes before the jail was to go into lockdown for the day, with prisoners heading back to their cells.
Detectives were inside the jail late into the evening as part of a major inquiry into the attack.
CCTV is expected to play a key role in their investigation.
It is probable they will encounter difficulties with gathering prisoner witness accounts because of the jail system's heavily enforced code of silence.
Mokbel was stabbed in the upper body with what is believed to have been a shiv, a homemade prison knife.
The motive remained unclear on Monday night.
There was speculation the attack could be connected to revelations Mokbel intervened in a standover racket operating at the prison, near Geelong. The Sunday Herald Sun reported that Mokbel - who is eyeing freedom as part of the Lawyer X scandal - disrupted an extortion scheme run by a group of Pacific Island inmates.
Some criminals are believed to have become irritated at Mokbel talking of his plans to get out of jail.
"He's been a pest," a source said on Monday night.
It is not known if a weapon or weapons have been recovered.
The attack happened in the prison's Diosma unit, a mainstream section of the jail.
Mokbel had previously been in the notorious Acacia unit, among the most regulated corrections environments in the state.
A security assessment is understood to have been held after news of the attack became known.
Mokbel arrived at the Royal Melbourne Hospital via ambulance helicopter at 5.15pm, 90 minutes after being stabbed.
A hospital spokeswoman said Mokbel was in a critical condition.
The mercy flight is believed to have been made with a Corrections Victoria escort.
The other man injured was taken by road ambulance to Geelong Hospital.
Earlier, paramedics and prison officers - among them members of the security and emergency services group - were seen crowded around Mokbel as he lay on a stretcher on grassland at the complex.
Eight paramedics were working on the stricken criminal as he lay between air and road ambulances.
Mokbel was bare-chested and wearing shorts, with paramedics working on wounds to his upper body and stomach.
Staff held a white sheet above Mokbel in an attempt to prevent a TV news helicopter from taking footage.
Barwon is a high-risk, maximum security prison that houses about 400 prisoners 68km southwest of Melbourne CBD.
"All violent incidents in custodial facilities are investigated and there will be a full review of this incident," a state government spokesman said.
"As this is an ongoing police investigation it would be inappropriate to comment further."
Mokbel is regarded as being among the most powerful organised crime figures in the state, building a $100 million drug syndicate at the height of his outlaw career.
He bolted from Australia in 2006 after learning he was to be charged with one of the killings during Melbourne's gangland war era.
In 2007, he was arrested in Greece, extradited back to Melbourne and has remained behind bars ever since.
Monday was not the first time Mokbel has been involved in jailhouse violence.
In April, 2014, he was accused of breaking the nose of another Barwon inmate, leaving him in hospital.
The matter went no further when the alleged victim reflected on the matter and decided to make a statement of no complaint.
Barwon is where Mokbel's former associate, Carl Williams, was bludgeoned to death on April 19, 2010.
Williams, one of the state's most infamous criminals, was attacked with the stem of an exercise bike by fellow inmate Matthew Johnson and died after suffering extensive head injuries.
THE FALL OF TONY MOKBEL
Mokbel was in 2012 sentenced to a minimum of 22 years' jail and housed in the Diosma unit, a mainstream unit.
He skipped bail in March 2006 during a trial for cocaine importation and initially sought refuge in Bonnie Doon, where he hid for seven months.
While there, he received special deliveries, such as his mother's tabouli, and visits from his then-girlfriend, Danielle McGuire.
Despite being on Interpol's top 100 list, and being the subject of a $1 million bounty for information leading to his capture, Mokbel is believed to have continued to run his drug empire from overseas.
His disappearance prompted rumours of gunfights in downtown Lebanon, plastic surgery and priest disguises.
The wig Mokbel was wearing when he was arrested is now kept at the police museum, despite his attempts to reclaim it.
The Mokbel confidant at the centre of the scandal over police tactics - a scandal due to be blown open next week - had a strong rapport with both the drug lord and his brothers Horty, Milad, and Kabalan.
Mokbel says he trusted the person deeply.
There are claims the person was able to communicate with him, via an intermediary, while he was on the run.
In a court hearing following Mokbel's flight, police publicly blamed a solicitor not involved in the trial for warning him that murder charges were about to be laid against him.
Mokbel travelled across the Nullarbor, posing as a mute named Wes, before boarding the yacht Edwena - complete with a purpose-built hidey hole and separate toilet for the fugitive - for a voyage to Greece.
He was eventually arrested in an Athens seaside cafe in June 2007.
Congratulating the police officers, he said: "I don't know how you did it, but you've done a brilliant job."
He was extradited back to Melbourne in May 2008.
Detectives said that while in Athens, Mokbel rented a two-storey apartment for $3224 a month, and had just received $400,000 from contacts. Ms McGuire also visited him.
Mokbel was charged with two murders, but was acquitted of one, and the other case was dropped.
LIFE AND CRIMES OF TONY MOKBEL
1965: Born Antonios Sajih 'Tony' Mokbel in Kuwait
1974: Mokbel and his family move to Australia
1986: Convicted of assaults, threats to kill, resisting arrest
1989: Convicted of possessing gun
1992: Convicted of attempting to bribe a County Court judge, jailed
1998: Convicted over drug manufacturing but overturned
2001: Arrested for importing ephedrine
2004: Trial over importation of cocaine and ephedrine charges
2005: 14 charges dropped but tried for drug trafficking
2005: Applies for legal aid
2006: Trial for importing cocaine. During trial, he hides in Bonnie Doon. Later escapes to Greece and is convicted of drug smuggling in absentia
JUNE 2007: A bewigged Mokbel arrested in Athens, Greece
2008: Athens Supreme Court grants Australia's request for extradition
2009: Murder charge over the death of Michael Marshall dropped; acquitted of the murder of Lewis Moran
FEBRUARY 2012: Chest pains in the exercise yard at Barwon Prison see Mokbel carted off to hospital in where it's discovered he's had a mild heart attack
JULY 2012: Jailed for 30 years and ordered to serve a minimum of 22 years after pleading guilty to drug trafficking charges
APRIL 2014: Accused of breaking the nose of a fellow inmate at Barwon Prison. No charges laid
DECEMBER 2018: Herald Sun reveals he hopes to walk free from jail within four years as a result of the Lawyer X scandal
FEBRUARY 10, 2019: Sunday Herald Sun reveals he has become a powerful enforcer and unlikely peacekeeper at Barwon Prison