Inmates free hostages at Paraguay prison, end riot

Inmates free hostages at Paraguay prison, end riot
Inmates free hostages at Paraguay prison, end riot

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Hundreds of inmates set alight mattresses and lobbed rocks at officers from the roof of the overcrowded Tacumbu jail during the riot, which began Tuesday and ended yesterday after negotiations with authorities. — AFP pic

ASUNCION, Oct 12 — Inmates at Paraguay’s largest prison yesterday freed 22 guards they had taken hostage during a riot that left one person dead.

Hundreds of inmates set alight mattresses and lobbed rocks at officers from the roof of the overcrowded Tacumbu jail during the riot, which began Tuesday and ended after negotiations with authorities.

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The guards were held hostage for 15 hours, and dozens of women who had come to visit relatives were also trapped inside during the unrest.

Police said a 26-year-old prisoner had been found dead during the clean-up of the penitentiary, with deep slashes to his abdomen.

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“Order has been restored,” President Santiago Pena told a press conference.

“Rest assured that the government’s response will be firm. We have the resources and the capacity.”

Tacumbu prison houses around 3,000 inmates, or six times the capacity it was built for, criminologist Juan Martens told AFP.

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Pena admitted the crisis was due to overpopulation in the prison, with 1,600 residents awaiting or undergoing trial.

“The case of Tacumbu prison is not new,” he said, vowing to accelerate the construction and completion of three new prisons in the country.

“Much of the crime that is committed in the streets is related to the problem of prison policy,” said Pena.

Police have not said what the negotiations with the inmates entailed, although one of the prisoners’ demands was the resignation of Justice Minister Angel Barchini.

The violence comes after the minister last week announced a plan “to regain power in the penitentiary centres,” where the Rotela Clan and Brazilian gangs reign supreme.

Barchini had warned that the plan would “cost human lives.”

Paraguay, a country of 6.5 million inhabitants, has around 16,000 inmates spread across 18 prisons. — AFP

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