Brazil inmates release more than 100 hostages after standoff in prison
By Moises Avila, AFP
May 20, 2014, 12:06 am TWN
BRASILIA--Inmates at a maximum-security prison in northeast Brazil, who had taken four guards and more than 100 visiting relatives hostage during a riot, released all the captives Sunday, officials said.
Negotiators secured the remaining hostages' release just hours after first persuading prisoners to give up one of the guards they had seized in the riot, which broke out Saturday at the end of visiting hours at the Advogado Jacinto Filho prison in Aracaju, the capital of Sergipe state.
“The rebellion is over. The guards and all the prisoners' relatives who were inside have been freed,” Marinho Tibas, a spokesman for the state justice department, told AFP.
He said 127 visiting family members, including 15 children, had been held hostage, raising an earlier count of 118 relatives.
“Everything is returning to normal,” Tibas said, calling the negotiations intense but “calm.”
The freed hostages have undergone medical checks, he said.
Media reports said the first guard to be freed was wounded.
During the riot, inmates also killed a police dog used to search for contraband, officials said.
Under the deal reached with the hostage-takers, 16 inmates will be transferred to other prisons, officials said.
The rioters were recently sentenced inmates who had been temporarily jailed at the facility and were demanding to be transferred.
As a maximum-security prison, the facility does not allow food from outside, strictly limits outdoors time and prohibits cell phones.
The riot broke out 26 days before the opening match of the World Cup in Brazil, which has faced protests over the more than US$11 billion being spent on the tournament and a series of strikes that threaten to disrupt it, including by police.
No World Cup games will be played in Sergipe, however.
The riot erupted in one of the prison's four wings and involved 123 prisoners, officials said. Talks to free the hostages began Saturday but broke off overnight.