İrem UZUN -TDO- A prison riot in Colombia’s capital Bogotá left 23 prisoners dead and 83 injured, the country’s justice minister said, as detainees protested about sanitary conditions amid the global outbreak of coronavirus. 32 injured prisoners had been hospitalised, justice minister Margarita Cabello Blanco said in a video, while seven prison guards were also injured. Two guards were in a critical condition.
Inmates at prisons across the country held protests on Sunday against overcrowding and poor health services during the coronavirus outbreak. The justice ministry is investigating. Cabello said the violence was a coordinated plan with disturbances reported across 13 of the country's prisons. Denying claims of unsanitary conditions amid fears of a coronavirus breakout, she said: "There is not any sanitary problem that would have caused this plan and these riots. "There is not one infection nor any prisoner or custodial or administrative staffer who has coronavirus." She said prisoners had run amok and some would be charged with attempted murder, and damage to property. A large number of relatives gathered outside the gates of La Modelo prison to await news of their loved ones. They said they had heard of shots being fired after the security forces arrived. Videos posted to social media showed inmates setting fire to mattresses.
Colombia had confirmed 235 coronavirus cases and 3 deaths as of Monday. But with notoriously overcrowded and often violent prisons, many are concerned that the virus could spread quickly there. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever or coughing. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The government has taken a handful of initial measures, including barring relatives from visiting inmates.