January 2, 2017 / 10:09 PM / 10 months ago

Factbox - Brazil's history of violent prison uprisings

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - About 60 people were killed in a prison riot in the city of Manaus sparked by a war between rival drug gangs, officials said on Monday, in some of the worst violence in years in Brazil’s overcrowded penitentiary system.

Violent uprisings among Brazil’s 600,000-strong prison population are a regular occurrence, fed by chronic overcrowding, degrading conditions and competition between criminal groups that control large swaths of penitentiaries.

Following is a list of notable riots:

October 2016 - At least 18 inmates were killed in two prisons in remote parts of northern and western Brazil in clashes between Brazil’s most powerful drug gang, the Sao Paulo-based First Capital Command, and its closest rival, the Red Command from Rio de Janeiro.

Six men were decapitated and their bodies set on fire, local media reported.

November 2010 - At least 18 inmates were killed during an uprising in the notorious Pedrinhas prison in the northeastern state of Maranhao.

June 2004 - A three-day battle between gangs in Rio de Janeiro’s Benfica jail ended with 30 prisoners and a prison warden dead, nearly half of them beheaded. The mutinous prisoners, armed with pistols and shotguns, surrendered and freed more than 20 hostages only after talks mediated by a priest.

January 2002 - At least 27 inmates were killed in a riot in the overcrowded Urso Branco prison in the northwestern state of Rondonia. The riot started after members of rival gangs were placed in the same pavilion after a failed escape attempt. Some 900 inmates were being kept in a facility designed for just 360, local media said.

February 2001 - At least 19 people were killed in Brazil’s biggest-ever prison uprising, involving more than 20,000 inmates in 29 jails across the state of Sao Paulo.

October 1992 - More than 111 inmates were killed in the Carandiru penitentiary in Sao Paulo state, most of them by police who stormed the building, in Brazil’s bloodiest prison uprising.

No one has ever served prison time for the killings. Human rights groups voiced outrage in September 2016 when a Brazilian court declared the trial and sentences against 74 police officers null.

Carandiru, one of Latin America’s biggest prisons, which was home to some 8,000 inmates, was closed in 2002 after inmates across Brazil held protests against conditions in jails.

Editing by Peter Cooney

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