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Sunday, 15 April, 2001, 17:50 GMT 18:50 UK
Bloody end to Brazil jail siege
Carandiru Prison, scene of an earlier riot
Prison riots are a frequent occurrence in Brazil
A four-day standoff at a prison in western Brazil has ended after protesting inmates turned on their own ringleaders.

Inmates at Carumbe prison in the remote city of Cuiaba had been holding about 150 people hostage - mostly women and children who were visiting imprisoned family members.

On Sunday, at least five of leaders of the protest were killed by their fellow prisoners, apparently because they wanted to prolong the siege until they could make a statement on television.

Meanwhile. police are still looking for a group of inmates who broke out of jail in Sao Paulo in a separate incident on Saturday.

A total of 123 prisoners escaped when about 15 heavily armed men stormed the Pinheiros jail. About a dozen of the inmates have since been recaptured.

Ill-treatment

The latest prison rebellions follow the publication of a United Nations report which concludes that ill-treatment and torture are widespread and systematic in Brazil's overcrowded jails.


They were killed by inmates outraged at the situation since their families were at risk

Police Lt Col
Antonio Moraes
Riots are a frequent occurrence, as are breakouts.

Inmates at the Carumbe prison had demanded the dismissal of the warden, whom they accused of ill-treatment and corruption, as well as a judicial review of their cases and more hygienic conditions.

Authorities cut off electricity, food and water to the prison to try to end the standoff.

Negotiations were apparently going well, until the leaders of the rebellion decided to hold out until Sunday so that they could read out a statement on television.

"Early the next morning, they were killed by inmates outraged at the situation since their families were at risk", police Lieutenant Colonel Antonio Moraes said.

He said the police were considering bringing charges against the reporter and television programme that had agreed to allow the ringleaders to read their statement.

'Incompetence or collaboration'

Sao Paulo's Security Secretary, Marco Vinicio Petrelluzi, said the mass escape from Pinheiros jail was aided by the "incompetence or collaboration" of prison officials.

He said it was "impossible that 15 heavily armed men raid a prison and nobody manages to stop them."

The official said the men, who were wearing special police uniforms, stormed the building to free specific inmates.

After an exchange of fire in which nobody was hurt, the raiders opened cell doors and 123 of the prison's 822 inmates raced out through the front gate.

Many of them ran to a major intersection, forcing cars to stop and then hijacking them to make their escape, according to the local media.

A simultaneous uprising in 29 Brazilian prisons in February, when inmates took some 7,000 visitors hostage, left 19 prisoners dead.

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See also:

14 Apr 01 | Americas
Siege at Brazilian jail
11 Apr 01 | Americas
UN condemns Brazil prison 'torture'
12 Mar 01 | Americas
Brazil TV screens live riot
06 Mar 01 | Americas
Violence grips Brazil prisons
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Brazil prison gang calls 'truce'
19 Feb 01 | Americas
Brazil's notorious prisons
19 Dec 00 | Americas
Nine die in Brazil prison riot
17 Aug 00 | Americas
Eleven die in Brazilian prison riot
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