Tuesday 21 November 2017

56 inmates left dead after Brazilian prison riot

A prison riot in Brazil has left at least 56 inmates dead
A prison riot in Brazil has left at least 56 inmates dead

At least 56 inmates have been killed after fighting started a riot at a prison in the state of Amazonas in northern Brazil.

Officials said the death toll included several who were beheaded or dismembered in the worst bloodshed at a Brazilian prison since 1992.

The riot apparently grew out of a fight between two of the country's biggest crime gangs over control of prisons and drug routes in northern Brazil.

Amazonas authorities initially reported 60 dead but on Monday afternoon the state public security secretary's office reduced that figure to 56.

State public security secretary Sergio Fontes said some inmates escaped from the Anisio Jobim penitentiary complex in Manaus during the riot, but he did not say how many. He said 40 had been recaptured.

There were 1,224 inmates in the prison, which was built to hold 592, Mr Fontes said. The prison is run by a private company that is paid according to the number of inmates.

Twelve prison guards were held hostage by the inmates, though none was injured during the riot that began on Sunday afternoon and ended on Monday morning.

Mr Fontes confirmed many of the dead had been beheaded while Judge Luis Carlos Valois, who negotiated the end of the riot with inmates, said he saw many bodies that had been quartered.

It was the largest death toll during a Brazilian prison riot since the killing of 111 inmates by police officers in the Carandiru penitentiary in Sao Paulo in 1992.

Two other prisons in Manaus also reported riots on Monday.

At one, 87 prisoners escaped, including an inmate who posted a picture of himself on Facebook as he left.

Amazonas police were investigating whether there was a link between the violence at the three prisons. By evening, state police said the situation was stable in all three prisons.

Mr Fontes said the inmates at Anisio Jobim made few demands to end the riot, saying that hinted at a killing spree organised by members of a local gang, the Family of the North, against those of the Sao Paulo-based First Command of the Capital.

The secretary said officers found a hole in a prison wall through which weapons entered the building.

A policeman was wounded in exchange of gunfire with the inmates. Several firearms were found when police searched the prison after the riot.

Jose Vicente da Silva, a former national public security secretary, said the incidents in Manaus were a result of Brazil's severe recession and poor management of the prison system.

He added: "Since 2014 homicides in prisons of Amazonas are double the national average and last year they cut their public security budget by 50% due to austerity measures. This incident is a repetition in a bigger scale."

AP

Press Association

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