Venezuelan Police
01 Apr 2018

Five policemen arrested for Venezuelan jail fire disaster

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Five police officers have been arrested suspected to be responsible for the catastrophic fire at a police station in Venezuela last week.

Chaos arose when a fire broke out on Thursday during a riot at the overfilled arrest in northern Venezuela this week. 68 people died in the fire.

The information that five police officers are suspected of being responsible for the disaster comes from the prosecutor Tarek William Saab, who does not divulge any more details.

Witnesses have said there was a shooting between police and prisoners.  A widow has accused the police of releasing gas which caused the fire to spread between the over crowded cells.

The tragedy in Valencia, the third largest city in the country, is one of the worst in Venezuela's prisons and arrests. The fire has led to national protests and official condemnations from the UN.

Saab, close ally of the country´s president Nicolás Maduro, has promised that the fire will be investigated and that "those responsible will be punished without exception".

The Venzuela government said on Friday that the victims' families should be compensated without specifying the amouns. According to the authorities, 66 prisoners and two female visitors died in the fire.

The opposition blames the tragedy on Maduro's inability to reform the country's lawless prisons, where prisoners often can carry weapons and continue to commit crimes from within the cell.

The police in the state of Carabobo have not commented on the arrests yet.

Venezuelan prisons are very overcrowded, which has led to the sentencing of prisoners to police stations' arrests, often holding five times as many prisoners as the cells are designed for.