At least seven detainees died and 12 others were injured in a violent confrontation at a police lockup in the southern Venezuelan state of Amazonas, authorities and non-governmental organizations said Wednesday.
The head of the independent Venezuelan Prisons Observatory, or OVP, Humberto Prado, provided those figures to Efe, noting that three of the slain individuals were members of an Amazon Indian tribe.
He said the participants used “firearms and knives” in Wednesday’s clash at the lockup, which serves as a preventive detention center “due to the lack of incarceration facilities in that remote, sparsely inhabited state.
He said the lockup is designed to hold 160 people, although it currently houses 190.
Amazonas Gov. Liborio Guarulla told Globovision that his office had unsuccessfully sought the national government’s assistance in transferring some of the detainees to one or more of the country’s 35 prisons.
According to the OVP, 560 people were killed and 1,457 injured in Venezuela’s jails and prisons in 2011.
Venezuela’s prison system is plagued by lengthy delays in bringing cases to trial and overcrowding at incarceration facilities, which house more than 45,000 inmates and detainees, or more than three times their capacity.