Christmas Massacre in Guatemala

At least 18 inmates killed in prison riots

An unprecedented two days bloody riot in a jail outside Guatemala City left 18 dead, including one person decapitated and 14 burned to death. Official reports added that while riots were still going on at "El Pavoncito" prison, other 30 inmates were seriously wounded.

The small Central American State is completely shook by the TV images bringing corpses brutally killed after the small uprising first staged on Monday. As per local press reports, rioters demanded more visiting rights and better food. In addition, Chief of Police said inmates also claimed for the dismissal of Guards accused of abusive behavior.

To calm down rioters, authorities ordered the immediate change of guards. However, negotiations started quickly broke down, as Emilio Najera, a Guatemala City fire department spokesman, said to the press.

A group of prisoners then captured Julio Beteta, who police say controlled drugs and weapons distribution within the prison. Inmates used makeshift knives and machetes to decapitate Beteta and then "paraded his head around in front of other prisoners,'' Najera said.

This action touched off a general battle inside the prison, between inmate factions and everything went out of control. One of the factions rounded up other 14 inmates, doused them with gasoline and lit them fire.  Then, police Special Forces broke in and restored order. The storm of the prison performed by more than 200 police officers left other 2 dead and the 30 wounded.

After the press started reporting from the jail, a large group of inmates' friends and family gathered trying to obtain information about their relatives. As found no answers from authorities, relatives begun a protest demanding releasing of bodies.

El Pavoncito is a penitentiary on Guatemala City's outskirts where prisoners are taken before or during their trials. The uprising started in the maximum-security wing but spread to other sectors where security is not as tight, prison authorities said.

Hernan Etchaleco

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Author`s name Olga Savka