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Dozens in jailbreak on Venezuelan C'bean island

Friday, March 16, 2018

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CARACAS, Venezuela (AFP) — Dozens of prisoners broke out of jail Friday on the Venezuelan tourist island of Margarita, the military said, adding that a major manhunt was underway.

Military authorities on the island said 58 prisoners escaped at dawn after smashing a hole in the wall of a police detention center where they were being held.

Four prisoners were recaptured, the regional military chief, Vice Admiral Jonny Vera, told the local newspaper.

The prisoners were in the custody of the local police in Nueva Esparta state, to which Margarita belongs.

Venezuelan authorities often use police detention centers as places of permanent incarceration to cope with overcrowding in the prison service. By law, detainees should only be held at the centers for a maximum of 48 hours.

Venezuelan NGO Window to Freedom estimates that overpopulation of these temporary facilities runs to 400 per cent.

It said that 65 people, including a policeman, were killed in clashes for control of these centers in 2017, and also reports death from malnutrition due to a lack of food and diseases like tuberculosis.

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