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HUMAN RIGHTS -
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Thirteen inmates in Ecuador crucify themselves in prison protest

Posted in the database on Saturday, June 25th, 2005 @ 16:10:38 MST (1348 views)
from AFP  

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Thirteen inmates, among them a Brazilian, a Chilean and a Colombian, have crucified themselves in Ecuadoran prisons as part of a protest to demand reduced sentences, a spokesman for the protesters said.

The crucifixions Thursday in two penitentiaries in the port city of Guayaquil were part of a protest involving 10,000 inmates, the spokesman for the protesters, Washington Grueso, said. Two of the prisoners were still hanging from crosses Friday, he said.

Other gruesome forms of protest included blood letting, hunger strikes, stitching up of prisoners' lips, and partial burials.

Grueso did not immediately report the condition of the protestors.

"We have initiated a series of crucifixions in all the prisons to demand from Congress a structural change in the penal system," Grueso said.

He threatened the protests "will become more radicalized" if the Ecuadoran Congress does not heed the prisoners' demands, which also included better housing and rehabilitation programs.

He said the three foreign inmates all were accused of drug trafficking and had been imprisoned for more than a year without being formally sentenced.

One of them, Chilean Daniel Pentenero, had nailed himself to a wooden cross and was also on a hunger strike, Grueso said, adding that more prisoners were expected to join if their demands were not met.

A meeting Thursday between the protesters and government official Mauricio Gandara ended without an agreement, Grueso said.

Congress remained in recess Friday after discussing reform of the criminal code in its final debate late Thursday.

The protesters have control of the interiors of seven of Ecuador's 34 prisons, which house some 11,650 inmates, though they were built to hold only 6,500.

Meanwhile, authorities have increased security outside the prisons to prevent escape attempts.



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