Death toll in Peru prison riot over coronavirus demands rises to nine

LIMA (Reuters) – Nine inmates have died after a prison riot in Peru over demands for better sanitary measures and coronavirus medical care, the country’s prison authority said on Tuesday,

The protest by inmates, who were also calling for pardons, began Monday afternoon at the Miguel Castro Castro prison, located in the San Juan de Lurigancho district, according to the National Penitentiary Institute (INPE).

Prisoners managed to “climb to the roofs with the aim of preventing access by (security forces) by throwing stones and other blunt objects at them,” the INPE said in a statement, adding the inmates attempted to escape but were not successful.

The riot was controlled with the aid of about 200 security officials later in the day. The cause of the nine deaths was not shared by officials.

Peru approved a decree last week that allows President Martin Vizcarra to grant humanitarian pardons to prisoners in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the country’s jails, which are currently at more than double capacity.

The INPE has reported 609 cases of coronavirus in prisons, and 113 cases among prison workers. Thirteen inmates have died from the virus.

Peru has 28,699 confirmed cases of coronavirus, the second highest number in Latin America, and 782 deaths, according to the health ministry.

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