Eight killed in Venezuela prison brawl

August 19th, 2009 - 7:53 am ICT by IANS  

Caracas, Aug 19 (EFE) At least eight people have been killed and five injured in a brawl among inmates at an overpopulated prison in the southern Venezuelan state of Bolivar, a prison watchdog group has said.
The incident occurred at the Vista Hermosa prison early Tuesday morning when a gunbattle broke out among the prisoners, Humberto Prado, the head of the Venezuelan Prison Observatory, told Union Radio.

Media outlets reported that the bodies were taken to the morgue at the Hospital Ruiz y Paez in Ciudad Bolivar, some 800 km south of Caracas.

The same outlets said that on Tuesday afternoon new armed clashes broke out among the prisoners at the facility and thus it is presumed that the number of injured or dead could rise.

Prado complained that currently the Vista Hermosa prison houses 850 inmates although its capacity is for just 400.

“We have always made suggestions to the government to properly relocate the prison population according to (each inmate’s) type of crime and level of dangerousness,” he added.

Separately, Venezuelan media reported that the prisoners at the Tocoron jail in the central state of Aragua Tuesday began a hunger strike to protest the death of one of the prisoners there.

Venezuela’s prison system, considered to be one of the most violent in the region, consists of 29 prisons and 16 penitentiaries which house a total of 20,000 inmates, according to government figures.

The Venezuelan Prison Observatory tallied 320 murders of prisoners between January and October 2008, compared to 498 in all of 2007.

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