25 in­mates killed in Brazil prison clash

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

SAO PAULO: At least 25 in­mates died Sun­day in clashes be­tween two ri­val fac­tions in a prison in far north­ern Brazil, the lat­est episode of vi­o­lence shak­ing the coun­try’s un­der­funded and over­crowded prison sys­tem. Seven of the dead were be­headed and six burned to death in fight­ing at a prison in Boa Vista, the cap­i­tal of Ro­raima state, the news site G1 re­ported, cit­ing lo­cal po­lice. The blood­shed be­gan when in­mates of one wing of the Agri­cola de Monte Cristo prison broke into another wing.

Pris­on­ers were armed with knives and wooden clubs, an in­mate’s wife who was in the prison when the riot broke out told G1. Ro­raima state Sec­re­tary of Jus­tice Uziel Cas­tro said that the fight erupted dur­ing vis­it­ing hours, and some 100 rel­a­tives of in­mates were briefly held hostage. The ri­ot­ers de­manded that a judge come to hear their de­mands. In­stead, Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions Po­lice stormed the prison, re­leased the hostages and re­gained con­trol of the site by sun­down. “All the hostages were re­leased,” Cas­tro said, adding that most of them were women. The prison, some 3,400 kilo­me­ters (2,100 miles) north­west of Rio de Janeiro, is in a state that bor­ders Venezuela and Guyana.

Vi­o­lent, over­crowded

Joana Moura, head of the union of Ro­raima pe­nal work­ers, told the Folha de Boa Vista news­pa­per that the in­ci­dent “is a re­flec­tion of the lack of in­ter­est from the state gov­ern­ment” to­wards the prison sys­tem. Ac­cord­ing to Moura, “there is no se­cu­rity equip­ment, there are not enough per­son­nel for the tasks, and the agents are work­ing beyond their lim­its.” Of­fi­cials from the coro­ner’s of­fice were in the prison to take out the bod­ies, the news­pa­per re­ported. Fights and ri­ots are fre­quent through­out Brazil’s over­crowded prison sys­tem. As of the end of 2014, there were 622,000 peo­ple im­pris­oned in Brazil, ac­cord­ing to a Min­istry of Jus­tice re­port, which added that most of the pris­on­ers are black males. Brazil has the world’s fourth largest prison pop­u­la­tion, the re­port said, after the United States, China and Rus­sia. Hu­man Rights groups have long com­plained about the de­plorable con­di­tions in Brazil­ian pris­ons.

In late May, 14 in­mates died in pris­ons in the north­east­ern state of Ceara, which led the In­ter-Amer­i­can Com­mis­sion on Hu­man Rights to is­sue a state­ment ex­press­ing their con­cern over prison vi­o­lence and urged struc­tural re­forms. In a sep­a­rate in­ci­dent in Septem­ber, some 200 in­mates ri­oted and es­caped from the over­pop­u­lated Jardino po­lis prison in Sao Paulo state.

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