One Dead, Eight Injured in Dominican Prison Riot

SANTIAGO, Dominican Republic – One inmate died and another eight were injured in a prison riot in the northern Dominican city of San Francisco de Macoris, the police said.

The victim was identified as Bernaid de la Cruz, who suffered buckshot wounds inflicted by guards at the correctional center, where several inmates knocked down part of a wall, threw stones, destroyed several cells and set fire to mattresses and bedding, the authorities said.

The prisoners rioted to demand the removal of security supervisor Melvin Bratma, whom they blamed for physical mistreatment, and to demand better food than the jail normally gave them.

Injured in Thursday’s riot were the convicts Giovanny Rafael Monegro, Vladimir Vargas, Jose Fañas, Victor Rodriguez Paulino and Cristian Ortega, along with two prison guards who were not identified.

The prosecutor assigned to the San Francisco de Macoris Court of Appeal said that the damage caused by the inmates and the violent attitude of many of them were cause for concern in a “model” correctional center where, he said, inmates are given every opportunity.

“Everyone knows the treatment the inmates receive here, they have the chance to learn a trade in order to get a new start as productive members of society. We’re surprised that they speak of bad food and indiscriminate treatment,” he said.

The official said that at the time when some of the inmates were delivering their requests, many of their fellow-prisoners were attacking the guards, grabbing and throwing stones from a wall they knocked down. The guards were forced to repel the aggression and in the scuffle one of the convicts was killed and others were injured.

The cells were occupied by security guards, policemen and army soldiers, who managed to subdue the prisoners.

After quelling the riot, penitentiary authorities said that at least 100 of the inmates suspected of taking part in the incident would be moved to other jails around the country.

The riot aroused tension in the Vista del Valle district where the penal center is located. Local residents gathered in front of the jail and many of the convicts’ families complained that the prisoners were victims of mistreatment by the prison guards. EFE

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