Inmates beheaded in Brazil jail riot
SAO PAULO // Two prisoners were beheaded and at least another one died after being thrown off the roof in a riot that erupted Sunday in a prison in southern Brazil.
Inmates of the penitentiary in the city of Cascavel took at least two agents and several other inmates hostage in the uprising, said military police Captain Ricardo Pinto. He said negotiations for better conditions in the prison were under way.
“A group of prisoners rebelled during breakfast and took two officers hostage. Then they beheaded two prisoners,” said Miguel Llanela, a civilian police agent assigned to the jail.
Officials have cut water and electricity to the enclosure and police officers were guarding the prison to stop the riot from spreading, said Elson Faxina a state judicial spokesman.
Prisoners set some objects on fire and were using metal poles to cause damage to the 928-bed prison that housed 1,140 prisoners at the time. Authorities initially said two men were decapitated, and later learned of a third prisoner who was also killed after he was thrown off the building. The three men were not identified.
The revolt began before sunrise when a prison guard was captured during breakfast, Capt Pinto said.
Dozens of the prisoners climbed onto the building’s rooftop, with their faces covered with white fabric. Local media images showed at least 30 of those inmates shouting while they beat men held with ropes around their necks, or whose hands were tied behind them.
The rioting inmates waved banners emblazoned with the initials PCC for a criminal prison gang formed in the 1990s.
Relatives arriving at the prison to visit inmates waited outside as night fell, trying to get information about their loved ones.
Jairo Ferreira, a lawyer for the prison guards’ union, said the prisoners rioted to demand better food and medical care in the prison.
The prison workers union said in a statement that lack of funding meant there was no regular maintenance of the facility.
“The prisoners say the food is bad, there are no lawyers to work their trials, no basic hygiene materials, few correctional officers,” the statement added.
“All these factors together are a tragedy waiting to happen.”
Police Capt Pinto said the revolt may also have been related to the recent convictions of two prisoners.
In Brazil 548,000 people are currently in prison – and there is a need for 207,000 more spots to prevent overcrowding, according to Conectas, an organisation specialising in inmate rights.
In May, inmates at a maximum-security prison in northeast Brazil took four guards and more than 100 visiting relatives hostage overnight, ultimately releasing them in a deal that saw the transfer of 16 inmates to other prisons.
* Associated Press, with additional reporting from Agence France-Presse