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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 October 2006, 02:57 GMT 03:57 UK
Argentine prisoners end protest
Protesting Argentine prisoners
The prisoners' protest was non-violent
A hunger strike by more than 14,000 Argentine prisoners demanding swifter trials has ended after two weeks.

It was called off after protesters reached a deal with the authorities, which included the easing of restrictions on early releases.

The strike began in one prison near the capital, Buenos Aires, and quickly spread to others in the region.

The prisoners maintained a dialogue with officials throughout the protest, and there was no violence.

The agreement that ended the strike included a ruling by the highest court in Buenos Aires province that time spent in jail should now count as part of any eventual sentence, Reuters news agency reports.

Grinding slowly

Strike leaders said more than 80% of inmates were awaiting trial and were demanding that the legal system should be speeded up.

Some inmates are not scheduled to appear in court until 2013.

The strikers also called for better conditions. Official figures show the prison population has almost doubled in the past five years.

The BBC's Daniel Schweimler in Buenos Aires says prison conditions in Argentina, like most of Latin America, are generally poor, with overcrowding, poor food and corruption leading to frequent outbreaks of violence, and sometimes full-scale riots.

Prisoners at almost 30 jails joined in the latest hunger strike.

All inmates - apart from the elderly and those suffering from Aids and tuberculosis - took part.

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