At Least 75 Inmates Dead In Ecuador Prison Riots

 

 

At least 75 inmates died Tuesday and several were injured in riots blamed on gang rivalry at three jails in Ecuador’s overcrowded prison system, authorities said.

As security forces battled to regain control, distraught family members waited desperately for news outside the prison in Ecuador’s western port city of Guayaquil, where officials said 21 died.

Another 33 died at the prison in Cuenca in the south and eight in Latacunga in the center of the South American country, according to Edmundo Moncayo, director of the government’s SNAI prisons management body.

“We want the death list given to us,” said Daniela Soria, 29, one of about 40 women outside the Guayaquil prison, many of them in tears.

“We know that the problems are not over because everyone there has a phone and my husband doesn’t call me,” she told AFP.

Earlier, she received a WhatsApp voice message from her husband, Ricardo, which she played back for AFP. “They are going to kill me, get me out of here!” he could be heard exclaiming, the last she heard from him.

Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno, on Twitter, attributed the riots to “criminal organizations” engaged in “simultaneous acts of violence in several prisons.”

The authorities, he said, “are acting to retake control.”

The military was deployed to help police quell the uprising.

The public defender’s office, an entity akin to an ombudsman set up to defend human rights, called the violence “an unprecedented massacre” and expressed its “concern over the lack of security in the country, which is reflected in the increase in crime and violence inside these prison facilities.”

‘Like a market’

The prosecuting authority said several inmates were left injured in fighting between “criminal gangs,” including two at Guayaquil in serious condition.

Several police were also injured, said Moncayo, but no deaths have been reported among security personnel.

Police commander Patricio Carrillo described the situation as “critical,” while Interior Minister Patricio Pazmino created a centralized command post to respond to what he said was “concerted action by criminal organizations to generate violence in penitentiary centers.”

The prison authority described fierce fighting between organized gangs that go by names such as Los Pipos, Los Lobos and Tigrones. They rely on drug trafficking and operate their criminal enterprises from prison.

Moncayo told reporters that on Monday, guards seized two firearms that were to be used to kill the leader of a group imprisoned in Guayaquil.

“Inside, it is like a market. There is everything: drugs, arms, even puppies. Everything is sold,” said Soria, the wife of prisoner Ricardo.

In order to reduce prisoner numbers amid the coronavirus epidemic, the government commuted the sentences of people convicted of minor offences, reducing overcrowding from 42 percent to 30 percent.

This still leaves Ecuador’s prison system, with a capacity to house 29,000 inmates in 60-odd facilities, with a prisoner population of 38,000.

There are 1,500 guards to oversee them.

Dearth of guards

The SNAI has said a dearth of personnel “hinders immediate response” to prisoner revolts.

Last year, inmate disputes left 51 dead, according to police figures.

A 90-day state of emergency in the country’s jails was ordered by Moreno last year to try to bring gang activity under control and reduce the violence.

But just in December, prison unrest left 11 prisoners dead and seven injured.

Tuesday’s riots coincided with a march of hundreds of indigenous people on Quito to demand a vote recount after a first round of presidential elections this month saw their candidate left out in the cold.

PHOTOS: Ex-PDP Spokesman, Olisa Metuh Released From Kuje Prison

(FILE) Former PDP spokesman, Mr Olisa Metuh, at the Federal High Court in Abuja on February 25, 2020. Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun.

 

A former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Olisa Metuh, has been released from prison after about 10 months of serving a jail term.

Pictures of Mr Metuh, leaving the Nigerian Medium Security Custodial Centre, Kuje in Abuja, the nation’s capital, were shared on Twitter by a PDP chieftain, Mr Ayodele Fayose.

Fayose, who is the immediate past governor of Ekiti State, congratulated the former spokesman for the opposition party, saying, “Welcome back home Olisa Metuh, tough time don’t last…”

READ ALSO: Don’t Close Down Your COVID-19 Treatment Centres, PTF Begs State Govts

PDP spokesman, Olisa Mutuh, leaves the Nigerian Medium Security Custodial Centre, Kuje in Abuja on December 24, 2020. Photo: Twitter- @GovAyoFayose

 

Metuh was prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), along with his company Destra Investment Limited, before Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja.

He was charged with seven counts of illegally receiving monies to the tune of N400 million from the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA), under Colonel Sambo Dasuki.

On February 25, 2020, Justice Abang convicted and sentenced the former PDP spokesman to seven years imprisonment.

Dissatisfied with the decision of the court, Metah approached the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal with an application seeking to set aside the ruling of the lower court.

PDP spokesman, Olisa Mutuh, poses with officials at the Nigerian Medium Security Custodial Centre, Kuje in Abuja on December 24, 2020. Photo: Twitter- @GovAyoFayose

 

In his argument, he alleged among others that the trial Judge was biased and failed to accord him a fair hearing.

About 10 months after the judgement of the Federal High Court, the appellate court agreed with the appellant that the trial judge was biased and quashed the judgement.

In its judgement delivered on Wednesday last week, the panel of three justices, led by Justice Stephen Adah, ordered a retrial of the case.

After reviewing the judgement of the appellate court, the EFCC said it would approach the Supreme Court to challenge it.

A week after the appellate court delivered the judgement, Metuh was released from the correctional facility in Kuje, Abuja.

PDP spokesman, Olisa Mutuh, at the Nigerian Medium Security Custodial Centre, Kuje in Abuja on December 24, 2020. Photo: Twitter- @GovAyoFayose

Rapper Lil Wayne Pleads Guilty To Firearms Charges

(FILES) In this file photo taken on May 31, 2019 Lil Wayne performs onstage at the 2019 Governors Ball Music Festival on Randall’s Islandin New York City.  (Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP)

 

US rapper Lil Wayne pleaded guilty Friday to possession of a firearm by a convicted felon over an incident dating back to last year, US media reported — a federal offense that could see him sentenced to up to 10 years in prison.

The 38-year-old artist, whose real name is Dwayne Michael Carter Jr, was found to be carrying a gun and bullets when police searched a private plane in Miami in December last year.

“Your honor, I plead guilty,” he reportedly told US District Judge Kathleen Williams during a virtual hearing.

The Miami Herald said that Lil Wayne — who has a home in south Florida — admitted the gold-plated pistol found in his luggage was his. He told police the weapon had been given to him as a Father’s Day gift.

Police also found what was believed to be cocaine, marijuana, ecstasy, heroin, painkillers and more than $25,000 in cash, the newspaper said.

But the sole federal weapons charge filed in federal court in Miami stems from the fact that Lil Wayne was convicted more than a decade ago on a separate firearms charge.a

Convicted felons are barred from owning firearms under federal law.

The five-time Grammy winner — who more recently made headlines for meeting with and voicing support for President Donald Trump — will face sentencing on January 28.

Edo Jail Break: Police Rearrest Four Escapees

File photo of a Police patrol van.

 

The Nigeria Police Force has re-arrested four persons who escaped from the Oko Prison in Edo State during the #EndSARS protest.

The suspects who were arrested for alleged armed robbery and car snatching in Kaduna confirmed that they were all part of the over 1000 prisoners who escaped from different correctional facilities in Edo State.

They include Adebayo Opeyemi, Onos Benjamin, Peter Felix, and Hudu Musa.

Parading the suspects on Monday in Abuja, the Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, explained that Opeyemi, a dismissed military man escaped and joined the group to form a new team.

READ ALSO: Troops Kill Two Bandits, Rescue 39 Travellers Abducted In Kaduna

Also, Benjamin who was on death row and awaiting execution admitted snatching a car 30 minutes after escaping from prison to aid his escape out of the state before selling the car to his contact in Niger Republic.

For Musa, the Force spokesman said he specialized in selling off stolen cars to border communities and had nine months left off his prison term before he escaped.

He also explained that the four escapees had formed a dangerous gang that started off where they stopped in crime before their convictions.

This comes a month after armed men stormed the correction facility in Oko, popularly known as the Oko prison.

Dozens Of Inmates Escape South African Prison

A file photo of a man holding prison-like bars.

 

Nearly 70 inmates staged a brazen escape from a detention centre in South Africa’s wine-producing town of Malmesbury on Friday after overpowering guards, before most were re-arrested, the government said.

The inmates, who were awaiting trial, broke out around midday during routine physical exercise at the facility situated about 65 kilometres (40 miles) north of Cape Town, the Department of Correctional Services said in a statement.

“The escapees overpowered officials, took the keys and locked three officials in a cell and opened other cells before escaping through the main entrance and over the roof,” it said.

Police immediately launched a manhunt and re-arrested 61 of the 69 escapees.

The centre was holding 451 offenders and there were 20 officials on duty at the time of the incident in the town surrounded by wheat and wine farms.

 

AFP

California To Release Another 8,000 Prisoners Over COVID-19 Fears

A view of a new emergency care facility that was erected to treat inmates infected with COVID-19 at San Quentin State Prison on July 08, 2020 in San Quentin, California.  Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/AFP
A view of a new emergency care facility that was erected to treat inmates infected with COVID-19 at San Quentin State Prison on July 08, 2020 in San Quentin, California. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/AFP

 

California will release up to 8,000 more prisoners to reduce the spread of the coronavirus in its crowded jails, according to authorities in the US state, one of the hardest hit by the pandemic.

The inmates could be eligible for early release by the end of August — joining 10,000 prisoners already freed in similar initiatives since the start of the virus crisis, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said.

“These actions are taken to provide for the health and safety of the incarcerated population and staff,” the department’s secretary Ralph Diaz said in a statement Friday.

The announcement, welcomed by prison reform advocates, follows a surge in COVID-19 cases in one of California’s oldest prisons, San Quentin.

State Governor Gavin Newsom on Tuesday said the outbreak there was a “deep area of focus and concern” after more than 1,000 inmates tested positive.

The San Quentin facility this week made up half of the active coronavirus cases in jails throughout the state, which has a total prison population of about 113,000.

Friday’s statement said the prisoners to be freed, who include inmates from San Quentin, would be tested for COVID-19 within a week of their release.

California, the most populated US state with a population of around 40 million, has confirmed more than 300,000 coronavirus cases and over 6,800 deaths from the disease.

 

AFP

COVID-19: Qatar Imposes Mandatory Masks On Pain Of Prison

(FILES) In this file photo taken on March 16, 2020 A man wearing a mask as a precaution against COVID-19 coronavirus disease, walks along the Doha corniche in the Qatari capital. QATAR OUT / AFP.

 

Qatar on Sunday began enforcing the world’s toughest penalties of up to three years’ imprisonment for failing to wear masks in public, as it battles one of the world’s highest coronavirus infection rates.

More than 30,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the tiny Gulf country — 1.1 percent of the 2.75 million population — although just 15 people have died.

Only the micro-states of San Marino and the Vatican had higher per capita infection rates, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

Violators of Qatar’s new rules will face up to three years in jail and fines of as much as $55,000.

Drivers alone in their vehicles are exempt from the requirement, but several expats told AFP that police were stopping cars at checkpoints to warn them of the new rules before they came into force.

READ ALSO: COVID-19 Crisis Punctures Tunisia Tourism Rebound

Wearing a mask is currently mandatory in around 50 countries, although scientists are divided on their effectiveness.

Authorities in Chad have made it an offence to be unmasked in public, on pain of 15 days in prison. In Morocco similar rules can see violators jailed for three months and fined up to 1,300 dirhams ($130).

Qatari authorities have warned that gatherings during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan may have increased infections.

Abdullatif al-Khal, co-chair of Qatar’s National Pandemic Preparedness Committee, said Thursday that there was “a huge risk in gatherings of families” for Ramadan meals.

“(They) led to a significant increase in the number of infections among Qataris,” he said.

Neighbouring Saudi Arabia will enforce a round-the-clock nationwide curfew during the five-day Eid al-Fitr holiday later this month to fight the coronavirus.

– Labourers at risk –

Mosques, along with schools, malls, and restaurants remain closed in Qatar to prevent the disease’s spread.

But construction sites remain open as Qatar prepares to host the 2022 World Cup, although foremen and government inspectors are attempting to enforce social distancing rules.

Officials have said workers at three stadiums have tested positive for the highly contagious respiratory virus. Masks have been compulsory for construction workers since April 26.

Tens of thousands of migrant labourers were quarantined in Doha’s gritty Industrial Area after a number of infections were confirmed there in mid-March, but authorities have begun to ease restrictions.

Khal said that most new cases were among migrant workers, although there has been a jump in infections among Qataris. He said the country had not yet reached the peak of its contagion.

Rights groups have warned that Gulf labourers’ cramped living conditions, communal food preparation areas and shared bathrooms could undermine social distancing efforts and speed up the spread of the virus.

AFP

Over 60 COVID-19 Cases Recorded In Morocco Prison

Members of the medical staff at the Mohammmed V military hospital, wearing protective outfits, are pictured during the novel coronavirus pandemic crisis, in the Moroccan capital Rabat on April 15, 2020. FADEL SENNA / AFP.

 

More than 60 cases of coronavirus infections have been recorded in a jail in southern Morocco, mostly among staff, the country’s prisons service said.

The DGAPR agency, in a statement late Monday, said 60 workers and six inmates had tested positive for COVID-19 at the prison in the town of Ouarzazate after checks were carried out on all prisoners.

Nine staff and two inmates had previously tested positive at a jail in the southern city of Marrakesh and in Ksar Kebir, in the north of the kingdom, it said.

The prison service said that cases of contamination in Morocco’s prisons — which hold a total of 80,000 inmates — were under control because of “preventives measures” such as quarantines for workers with the respiratory disease.

At the start of April, more than 5,650 prisoners were released to reduce the risks of the spread of coronavirus, which has cost 144 lives in Morocco and contaminated more than 3,000 people.

READ ALSO: UEFA Recommends Completion Of League Seasons

Other Middle East and North African countries have also released prisoners, a measure UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet has called for across the world as part of the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Morocco, a country of 35 million, has closed its borders and imposed a lockdown until May 20, enforced by security forces, to stem the spread of the disease.

AFP

10 Correctional Officers Injured In Attempted Kaduna Jailbreak

File photo

 

Some inmates at the Kaduna Correctional Service injured 10 officers during an attempt to escape from jail on Tuesday.

The Controller of Corrections, Sanusi Danmusa, confirmed this to Channels Television in an interview on Wednesday.

According to him, the incident occurred after the inmates demanded their release in order not to contract the COVID-19.

The controller, who said had been no coronavirus case in the Kaduna Maximum Custodial Centre or any other centre within the command, added that there was no directive to release any of the inmates.

In the aftermath of the incident, Danmusa said the command has beefed up security around all its custodial facilities in Kaduna State to avert any attempted jailbreak.

As for the inmates who attempted to escape, he said they were overpowered and the situation brought under control with none of them escaping.

Riot In Colombia Prison Leaves 23 Dead – Government

Inmates extend their hands at the Modelo prison in Bogota after a riot on March 22, 2020. – A riot in a prison in the Colombian capital has left 23 inmates dead and 90 wounded, Justice Minister Margarita Cabello announced Sunday. The riot was triggered by an attempted mass breakout overnight from La Modelo prison. DANIEL MUNOZ / AFP.

 

Rioting that swept through a crowded prison overnight in the Colombian capital Bogota left 23 inmates dead and 90 wounded, Justice Minister Margarita Cabello announced Sunday.

The riot was triggered by an attempted mass breakout from La Modelo prison, Cabello said, as the capital was on a weekend lockdown over the coronavirus pandemic.

Riots occurred “in several penitentiary centers in the country,” Cabello said in a statement. “The result of the attempted escape in the Modelo was 23 inmates dead.”

La Modelo is Bogota’s second largest prison after La Picota, where protests also erupted on Saturday night.

READ ALSO: Germany Bans Gatherings Of More Than Two Over Coronavirus

According to Cabello, 83 inmates and seven guards were injured in the disturbances inside La Modelo. Around half the injured prisoners were hospitalized, and two of the guards were in “critical condition.”

“There were no escapes,” she added.

The head of Colombia’s prison authorities, General Norberto Mujica, said his forces had taken back full control of the prison.

“Our guards prevented the escape from being carried out. We achieved that today and as a result are not looking for 5,000 prisoners that would have escaped.”

The government rejected accusations that the riots were sparked by unsanitary conditions inside a prison system unprepared to face the coronavirus pandemic.

“There is no health problem that would have caused the escape plan and these riots,” Cabello said.

“Today there is not a single infection, and no prisoners, nor administration or custodial officials, that have the coronavirus.”

AFP

Brazil Recaptures Inmates Who Escaped In COVID-19 Riot

Military police officers are seen at the main entrance of the Doctor Edgar Magalhaes Noronha (Pemano) Penitentiary during a riot on early March 17, 2020, in Tremembe, 155 km from Sao Paulo, Brazil.  Lucas LACAZ / AFP

 

Brazilian authorities said Tuesday they had recaptured 586 inmates who escaped from their minimum-security prisons after their right to leave on temporary furloughs was suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic.

But they estimated that 789 others remained on the run, after a series of riots Monday in four prisons in Sao Paulo state.

The riots broke out when authorities announced they were suspending the inmates’ right to leave for up to five week-long home visits per year.

They said they feared the returning prisoners would bring “heightened risk of spreading the new coronavirus among a vulnerable population” — their fellow inmates.

But that caused hundreds of prisoners to rebel against their guards, set fires and escape.

In all, at least 1,375 inmates fled, though authorities are still completing the count, the state penitentiary administration said.

The escapees were being held in “semi-open prisons,” which allow inmates to leave during the day for work and make extended home visits periodically.

The recaptured inmates “will lose the right to benefit from the semi-open system,” state prisons official Nivaldo Cesar Restivo told TV network Globo.

“They will now serve their sentences in normal prisons.”

Brazil has also suspended visits in its five federal maximum-security prisons over the coronavirus pandemic.

The country confirmed its first coronavirus-linked death on Tuesday.

AFP

PHOTOS: Four-Year Trial Ends As Metuh Begins Jail Term

Olisa Metuh being taken to the Nigeria Correction Service after a judgement was passed on his case on February the 25th, 2020. Photos: Sodiq Adelakun/ChannelsTV

 

The four-year trial of a former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Olisa Metuh, came to an end on Tuesday after the Federal High Court in Abuja found him guilty and sentenced him to seven years in prison.

Metuh was sentenced on seven counts of money laundering and criminal diversion of funds to the tune of N400 million.

According to Justice Okon Abang, the sentence is expected to take effect immediately (today, February 25, 2020).

See photos of him being taken to the Nigeria Correction Services, Kuje.

Read Also: Court Sentences Olisa Metuh To Seven Years In Prison After Four-Year Trial