Photo: Stray bullet kills an innocent man in his home
The Venezuelan government confirmed Wednesday that a Caracas resident died inside his home when he was struck by a stray bullet fired from inside a nearby prison.
The minister responsible for the prison system, Iris Varela, expressed “dismay” over the death of an “innocent gentleman” and the wounds suffered by another person who was in the residence.
Media outlets identified the dead man as 48-year-old Henry Molina, a resident of the El Paraiso neighborhood that is home to La Planta prison.
The fatal shot was fired by one of the inmates during disturbances that followed authorities’ attempt to begin transferring people out of La Planta in preparation for closing the dilapidated prison.
“We regret and reject that violent stance on the part of a little group that is also keeping their own fellow inmates in a situation of repression,” Varela said of the mutinous prisoners.
Venezuela’s penitentiary system is in crisis, according to the independent Venezuelan Prison Observatory, or OVP.
Violence inside the country’s 35 penal institutions claimed 560 lives in 2011, the OVP says, noting that the system is currently housing almost four times the number of people it was built to hold.
The government says 60 percent of those behind bars are still awaiting trial and officials are trying to ease overcrowding by speeding up the judicial process.