Cons moved after Venezuela prison riot

2013-01-27 21:40
An injured Barquisimeto inmate. (Rafael Rodriguez, AP)

An injured Barquisimeto inmate. (Rafael Rodriguez, AP)

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Caracas - Venezuelan authorities on Sunday finished evacuating inmates from a prison where 61 were reported killed in one of the deadliest prison clashes in the nation's history.

Penitentiary Service Minister Iris Varela said in a message on Twitter that the evacuation of Uribana prison in the city of Barquisimeto was completed on Sunday morning. Inmates were loaded aboard buses and driven to other prisons.

Varela posted photos of inmates filing out led by authorities, and said that what will come next for the prison is "now the reconstruction"!

Two days after the violence, government officials had yet to provide an official death toll from the fierce gunbattles, which pitted armed inmates against National Guard troops.

Dr Ruy Medina, director of Central Hospital in the city, told The Associated Press on Saturday that the death toll had risen to 61, while about 120 were wounded in the violence.

Medina said that nearly all of the injuries were from gunshots and that 45 of the estimated 120 people who were wounded remained hospitalised.

Relatives wept outside the prison during the violence, and cried at the morgue on Saturday as they waited to identify bodies.

The riot was the latest in a series of deadly clashes in Venezuela's overcrowded and often anarchical prisons, where inmates typically obtain weapons and drugs with the help of corrupt guards.

Varela said that the violence erupted on Friday when groups of inmates attacked National Guard troops who were attempting to carry out an inspection.

She said the government decided to send troops to search the prison after reports of clashes between groups of inmates during the past two days.

"No one doubts that inspections are necessary procedures to guarantee prison conditions in line with international standards, but they can't be carried out with the warlike attitude as [authorities] have done it," said Humberto Prado, an activist who leads the Venezuelan Prisons Observatory, a watchdog group.

"It's clear that the inspection wasn't co-ordinated or put into practice as it should have been. It was evidently a disproportionate use of force," Prado said.


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