Venezuela Blames Inmates For Deadly Prison Fire

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Relatives grieve during the funeral of some of the victims of the prison fire, in Valencia, northern Carabobo state, Venezuela, last week. Juan Carlos Hernandez/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Juan Carlos Hernandez/AFP/Getty Images

A deadly fire that broke out last week at a Venezuelan jail that killed dozens of inmates is believed to have been intentionally set by some prisoners, the country’s chief prosecutor said Monday.

Attorney General Tarek William Saab said prisoners at the jail set the blaze in response to a “type of inspection” being conducted by wardens at the jail, according to The Associated Press. What, if anything, was objectionable about the inspection is not clear.

Saab, who is a close ally of President Nicolas Maduro, nonetheless told Union Radio that police officials should be held accountable for the fire.

So far, he said, five officers have been arrested for “negligence” in connection with the fire, which killed 68 people.

“We don’t discard the possibility of more arrests,” Saab said, according to The Los Angeles Times. He said the fire investigation would last 45 days.

As NPR’s James Doubek reported at the time of the fire, Venezuela’s prisons are notoriously overcrowded. He noted a study by the journalism and research group InSight Crime that said “as of 2015, roughly 50,000 inmates were being kept in prisons meant for only 19,000. Jail cells, meant for temporary overnight holding, packed in 33,000 people in space meant for 5,000, the group said. Cells ‘are so crowded that prisoners have to take turns to sleep on the floor.'”

Saab acknowledged as much, saying: “An exacerbated overcrowding exists in the police facilities,” he told Union Radio.

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The Publisher: Juan Rodulfo, Defined by Nature: Planet Earth Habitant, Human, Son of Eladio Rodulfo & Briceida Moya, Brother of Gabriela, Gustavo & Katiuska, Father of Gabriel & Sofia; Defined by the Society: Venezuelan Citizen (Human Rights Limited by default), Friend of many, Enemy of few, Neighbor, Student/Teacher/Student, Worker/Supervisor/Manager/Leader/Worker, Husband of Katty/ Ex-Husband of K/Husband of Yohana; Defined by the US Immigration System: Legal Alien; Defined by the Gig Economy: Independent Contractor Form 1099; Studies in classroom: Master Degree in Human Resources Management, English, Chinese Mandarin; Studies at the real world: Human Behavior; Studies at home: Webmaster SEO, Graphic Web Apps Design, Internet & Social Media Marketing, Video Production, You Tube Branding, Trading, Import-Exports, Affiliate Marketing, Cooking, Laundry, Home Cleaning; Work experience: Public-Private-Entrepreneur Sectors; Other Definitions: Bitcoin Evangelist, Human Rights Peace and Love Advocate. Author of: Why Maslow: How to use his theory to stay in Power Forever (EN/SP), Asylum Seekers (EN/SP), Manual for Gorillas: 9 Rules to be the “Fer-pect” Dictator (EN/SP) Social Media profiles: Twitter/FB/Instagram/VK/Linkedin/Sina Weibo: @rodulfox