Authorities Investigating Reports of Massacre at Prison
SAO PAULO, Brazil (AP) _ Authorities said Friday they are investigating reports that security forces may have massacred prison inmates after an assault ended a 19-hour standoff with the hostage-holding convicts.
They also reported that 12, not 14, inmates were killed when state riot police stormed the maximum security prison in Presidente Venceslau, about 500 miles south of Brasilia, on Tuesday. Officials had initially placed the death toll at 14.
Eduardo Muylaert, chief of the Sao Paulo State Security Department, said there were ″extremely serious reports regarding a lynching and possible massacre″ at the prison.
Seventeen inmates armed with homemade knives took 14 prison employees hostage Monday and demanded weapons, transportation and safe conduct from the prison. Efforts to negotiate a surrender collapsed and about 600 riot police were sent in.
Prison Director Tatao Nomura told The Associated Press in a telephone interview that at least some of the inmates had been beaten to death with clubs and truncheons ″during a confrontation″ with the police.
Police Inspector Robert Jose Escudeiro said Tuesday that 11 inmates died of gunshot wounds.
Local newspapers, without citing sources for their information, have said the inmates were killed after they surrendered.
A doctor at the Presidente Venceslau hospital, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AP that two inmates remained in serious condition, but he refused to comment on the kinds of injuries they suffered.
Jairo Pires, a spokesman for the Security Department, said autopsies would be conducted and police involved in the assault would be questioned. Officials should know ″within a week to 10 days″ what happened, he said.
There were two other prison revolts this week, and on Friday one of 14 inmates who escaped from the main penitentiary outside Brasilia was shot to death and another one was captured.
Cesar Paz, spokesman for the State Security Bureau in Brasilia said police received a tip that two escapees had bought bus tickets in Luziania, near the capital.
″Police stopped the bus and got on with their guns drawn,″ Paz said. ″One of the fugitives threatened to pull a gun, and the police shot him dead. The other fugitive was arrested.″
He said the 12 other escapees remained at large.
The 14 had seized 15 hostages Tuesday in a second-floor office of the prison. Authorities gave them getaway cars in exchange for freeing the hostages, and the cars were found abandoned several hours later.
In the other revolt, four inmates at a prison in the southwestern town of Umuarama were shot to death and a fifth was wounded during an escape attempt Thursday, police said.
They reported the prisoners had overpowered two guards and officials agreed to provide them with a car if the guards were freed. The prisoners were shot as they got into the car, according to the police.