Four more inmates die following prison clash
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP):
Four inmates allegedly involved in deadly clash between prison gangs have died of asphyxiation while being transferred to a safer lockup, Brazilian authorities said Wednesday, even as they continued trying to identify the 58 who died in the riot.
The Para state public security office said the four were discovered dead when the prison vehicle arrived in the town of Maraba.
They said the vehicle had four compartments and was carrying 30 handcuffed inmates who were suspected of involvement in Monday’s clash between gangs at the Altamira prison.
Authorities said the four who died were from the same gang, and said they are investigating.
The prisoners were among 46 being sent to other prisons, including stricter federal ones. Local authorities confirmed late Tuesday at least 33 inmates had been moved to the state capital of Belem, from where they would be sent to other jails.
Only 15 of the bodies from the riot had been released to family members by late Tuesday. Workers at the coroner’s office said they were slowed by the small size of the facility as well as problems with lighting that meant they had to stop working at 6:30 p.m.
In the Amazon heat, the bodies were being kept in a large refrigerated truck.
Dozens of frustrated family members spent the day waiting outside the morgue, and forensic expert Marcel Ferreira said some passed out when called on to identify the bodies of beheaded loved ones. Sixteen of the inmates had been decapitated.
State officials said clashes erupted in Altamira early Monday when the local Comando Classe A gang attacked a wing of the prison holding members of the rival Comando Vermelho, or Red Command.
In many of Brazil’s prisons, badly outnumbered guards struggle to retain control over an ever-growing population of inmates, with jailed gang leaders often able to run their criminal activities from behind bars.
Comando Classe A members allegedly set fire to the temporary containers where inmates belonging to Red Command were being held while construction of another wing was under way. Most of the victims died of asphyxiation.