Investigators have spent the night at Barwon Prison in Victoria scouring through CCTV footage as drug kingpin Tony Mokbel remains in a critical condition after being ambushed in the prison exercise yard.

The Melbourne underworld figure was flown to the Royal Melbourne hospital in a serious condition after being stabbed multiple times to the upper body and underwent emergency surgery after deteriorating to a critical condition.

He remains in a critical condition.

Mokbel was set upon by two other inmates inside Barwon Prison late yesterday afternoon, forcing him to the ground before stabbing him a number of times with a homemade prison knife.

Corrections Commissioner Dr Emma Cassar confirmed this morning that three ‘shivs’ had been found in the area around the attack.

Aerial footage from Barwon Prison yesterday showed Mokbel bare-chested as paramedics rushed to his aid after reports the 53-year-old was stabbed in an exercise yard.

Questions are being raised over the safety of inmates at Barwon Prison and Victoria Police said today the armed crime squad was investigating but no arrests have been made.

Mokbel’s family have gathered at the hospital.

The 53-year-old was originally considered to be in a serious but stable condition, but Royal Melbourne Hospital later upgraded his condition to critical.

A 31-year-old inmate was also transported by road ambulance to hospital in a serious condition and no prison staff were injured.

The high-risk prison for men is where convicted murderer and drug trafficker Carl Williams was fatally bashed in April 2010.

Victoria Police have started an investigation into yesterday’s incident, a government spokesperson said in a statement.

“All violent incidents in custodial facilities are investigated and there will be a full review of this incident.

“As this is currently an ongoing police investigation it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

Mokbel hit headlines in recent weeks after news broke that his former lawyer had acted as a police informer, dishing dirt to detectives to help secure convictions.

After fleeing Australia while on trial in 2006, Mokbel was captured in Greece in 2007 and was sentenced to a 30-year jail term for drug crimes, with a minimum of at least 22 years before being eligible for parole.

But the lawyer informant scandal has opened a possible window of appeal to Mokbel, who had been talking about his possible release.

The stabbing comes a day after News Corp Australia ran an article “Tony the enforcer” about Mokbel’s rise as a “feared prison big-wig”.

The Herald Sun reported that Mokbel intervened to stop an extortion attempt of a 19-year-old prisoner in jail for the first time.

“When the Islanders were spoken to, on (Mokbel’s) orders, the scared young prisoner was left alone immediately,” the newspaper reported.

LIFE AND TIMES OF DRUG LORD TONY MOKBEL

EARLY LIFE

Born Antonios Sajih Mokbel in Kuwait to Lebanese parents in 1965, his family migrated to Australia when he was eight.

He grew up in poverty in Melbourne’s northern suburbs.

As a teenager, Mokbel started out at his brother’s pizza shop but within six years became the head of a multi-million dollar drug empire.

EARLY CONVICTIONS

1980s – From the early 1980s, Mokbel was convicted of a variety of offences, including assaults, threats to kill, resisting arrest, possessing a gun.

1992 – Sentenced to 12 months for trying to bribe a County Court judge.

1998 – Convicted for amphetamine manufacturing.

DRUG TRIAL AND ESCAPE

2006

March 20 – Disappears during Victorian Supreme Court trial over the importation of 2kg of cocaine from Mexico to Melbourne.

March 31 – Mokbel sentenced in absentia to a minimum of nine years’ jail for trafficking cocaine.

Mokbel hid in rural Bonnie Doon in Victoria for eight months before driving to Western Australia and fleeing on a yacht via the Suez Canal to Greece where he arrived on Christmas Eve, 2006.

2007

Feb 28 – Mokbel charged with the murder of gangland patriarch Lewis Moran, gunned down by two men in Melbourne in 2004. Mokbel is alleged to have ordered the hit on Moran for $140,000.

June – Police arrest him at a cafe in Athens

RETURN TO AUSTRALIA TO FACE JUSTICE

2008

May 17 – Mokbel lands at Melbourne Airport and is taken to Barwon Prison.

May 20 – Appears in court for the first time via video link from prison.

2009

April – A murder charge laid against Mokbel for the 2003 murder of Michael Marshall is dropped.

August – Trial begins for Mokbel over the murder of Lewis Moran.

September – Mokbel acquitted of murdering Moran.

2011

April – Mokbel pleads guilty to two counts of trafficking a large commercial quantity of drugs.

2012

July – Jailed for 30 years a with a minimum of 22 years after pleading guilty to drug trafficking charges

2018

February 11 – left in a critical condition after being stabbed in Barwon Prison.

© Nine Digital Pty Ltd 2019

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