Photo: Nicaraguan Prison
The warden of La Esperanza prison in northern Nicaragua was taken hostage Friday amid a brawl between two groups of inmates, Deputy Interior Minister Carlos Najar said.
Several inmates and four prison personnel were hurt in the fight, which broke out around 9:00 a.m., Najar told Channel 4 television in Managua.
Warden Elias Rocha is being held by some of the 838 inmates, the official said.
“At this moment there is a situation of detention, but the situation is not that of a real conflict, it has calmed down,” according to Najar, who said authorities are trying to achieve a negotiated solution to the standoff.
Riot police have been sent to the prison in Esteli province, National Police spokesman Fernando Borge told the media.
The president of the independent human rights group Cenidh described the situation at La Esperanza as “alarming” and said many people were hurt in Friday’s disturbances.
Vilma Nuñez told Efe her information came from Cenidh’s delegate in Esteli, Alberto Rosales, who said on Channel 63 television that he heard the sound of gunfire from inside the prison.
The inmates are demanding better food and treatment, Rosales said, while Nuñez said Nicaragua’s prisons “are saturated” and complained that authorities have barred Cenidh from inspecting penitentiaries for the last three years.
Nicaragua’s national ombud, Omar Cabezas, said Thursday that the country’s prisons are like a “hotel” in comparison with penal institutions in other Central American nations.
A fire last week at a vastly overcrowded prison in neighboring Honduras left 360 people dead.