Ecuador says 12 killed in prison riot, still identifying dismembered bodies
SANTO DOMINGO, Ecuador — Ecuador’s government on Tuesday said it was still trying to identify the dismembered bodies of inmates following a prison riot in the city of Santo Domingo and lowered the death toll to 12 from the 13 initially announced.
“Crime scene investigation teams have collected 45 human parts in the Santo Domingo penitentiary, which are 12 bodies and not 13,” Interior Minister Patricio Carrillo said on Twitter.
“Forensic anthropologists and forensic doctors are moving to conduct autopsies of the dismembered bodies,” added the minister, who said the procedures could take days.
Monday’s violence – which the government blamed on fighting between gangs within the Bellavista prison – is the latest incident of prison violence in the Andean country.
The government of conservative President Guillermo Lasso attributes prison violence to fights between gangs over control of territory and drug trafficking routes. Last year 316 prisoners were killed during fights in various prisons across Ecuador.
On Tuesday, Marisol Arroyo was waiting outside the morgue to identify the body of her nephew, whom she said had been transferred from another prison after having his life threatened.
“They moved them to Santo Domingo and said it was a calm prison. I don’t understand why, if they were threatened, they didn’t take the right precaution measures,” Arroyo said.
Seventeen prisoners were moved to other jails after the incident for their protection, the SNAI prisons agency said, adding it had confiscated a gun, ammunition, knives and cell phones from the jail.
Violence at the same prison in May lead to 43 deaths.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has said Ecuador’s prison system is blighted by state abandonment and poor conditions for inmates.
The country’s prisons house about 33,900 people and are 12.5% beyond maximum capacity, according to official figures.