Latin America

All 122 Brazilian prison hostages released

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All 122 people taken hostage during a riot in a maximum-security prison in Brazil have been released by their captors.

Police negotiators secured the hostages’ release on Sunday.

The riot broke out early Saturday as inmates demanding a transfer to prisons with better conditions, broke a hole in one of the walls of the Advogado Jacinto Filho prison in the city of Aracaju, Sergipe State.

Following the negotiations, reports said that 16 of the inmates will be transferred to other prisons.

Four prison guards and 118 people visiting prisoners had been taken hostage.

“The rebellion is over. The guards and all the prisoners’ relatives who were inside have been freed,” Marinho Tibas, a spokesman for the Brazilan justice department, told reporters.

Brazilian jails currently hold nearly 550,000 inmates and there is a need for additional space to avoid overcrowding, according to Conectas, a non-governmental organization specializing in inmate rights.

The prison unrest came just 26 days before the 2014 FIFA World Cup kicks off in Brazil amid a wave of protests in a number of cities over the high cost of the tournament.

On May 15, police in Sao Paulo clashed with World Cup protesters, who demonstrated against the cost of hosting the sport event in the country. Hundreds of people also marched in rush-hour traffic on a main thoroughfare in Rio, which will host the final match of the World Cup on July 13.

The demonstrators say the USD 11 billion being spent on the football tournament should be invested in better health, education, transportation, and housing for Brazilians.

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