Four inmates suffocated to death en route from site of Brazil prison massacre

Family members pray during the funeral of a relative who was a prisoner killed during a riot at a prison in Altamaria, Para state, Brazil. (AP Photo)
Updated 31 July 2019

Four inmates suffocated to death en route from site of Brazil prison massacre

  • The four dead inmates were all believed to belong to the same gang faction and had fought side by side during Monday’s clash
  • The confrontation involved members of the Comando Classe A gang, little known outside Para, and inmates from the rival Comando Vermelho, which hails from Rio de Janeiro

SAO PAULO: Four inmates in northern Brazil were suffocated to death on Tuesday as they were being transported from a violent prison where 57 others were killed on Monday in an orgy of gang-related bloodletting, authorities said.
Brazil has struggled for years to contain prison violence, amid a ballooning prison population that now ranks as the world’s third highest. Prisons are overcrowded and staffing is short, with rival gangs often vying for effective control of the facilities.
Authorities in the northern state of Para said on Wednesday the four dead inmates were all believed to belong to the same gang faction and had fought side by side during the Monday clash, in which over a dozen were decapitated.
The mass killing sparked widespread outrage in Brazil, and prison authorities said the violence had caught them by surprise with no intelligence suggesting an imminent confrontation, underscoring that prison violence is far from being controlled.
As part of the response, state authorities in Para said they would move some of the prison’s most dangerous inmates to different facilities, in an attempt to alleviate overcrowding and prevent further violence. But it was during one such transfer, in a truck carrying 30 prisoners in four separate holding cells, that the four inmates were killed on Tuesday.
Prison workers only found their bodies, all showing signs of suffocation as the cause of death, when the truck arrived at a new facility, Para’s State Secretary for Public Security and Social Defense, said in a statement.
It gave no further details and state officials did not respond to follow up questions. The state said the matter is under investigation.
Monday’s clash involved members of the Comando Classe A gang, little known outside Para, which set fire to a cell containing inmates from the rival Comando Vermelho, which hails from Rio de Janeiro and has expanded deep into northern Brazil.
Brazil’s notorious gangs have been linked to bank heists, drug trafficking and gun-running, with jailed kingpins presiding over criminal empires via smuggled cellphones.


Man suspected of killing wife, three children in Australia fire

Updated 20 February 2020

Man suspected of killing wife, three children in Australia fire

  • Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the country was ‘shocked, saddened and devastated’ by the tragedy
  • A passer-by who tried to intervene in the situation was also taken to hospital to be treated for facial burns

SYDNEY: An ex-rugby league player is suspected of murdering his three children and estranged wife in Australia by burning them alive inside their car, in what police described as one of the most horrific incidents they have encountered.

Officers said 31-year-old Hannah Clarke died in a Brisbane hospital on Wednesday just hours after her three children aged three, four and six were found dead in the car on a suburban street.

Her husband, Rowan Baxter, who also died, allegedly approached the vehicle and doused it with petrol before setting it alight, The Australian newspaper reported.

The paper said Clarke jumped from the burning car and rolled on the ground, saying “he’s poured petrol on me.”

Officials said she was rushed to hospital with severe burns following the “horrific” incident but later succumbed to her injuries.

Baxter, a 42-year-old former rugby league player for the New Zealand Warriors, was believed to be in the burning vehicle but got out and died on a footpath.

Queensland Police detective inspector Mark Thompson said Thursday that Baxter died as a result of burns and a self-inflicted wound.

“Information that’s to hand has led us to believe that the Baxter children and Hannah Clarke were killed and I don’t believe there’s any suspicious circumstances around the death of Rowan Baxter,” he said.

Clarke’s sister-in-law, Stacey Roberts, set up a fundraiser to pay for funeral costs and support Hannah’s parents, who she said had “exhausted themselves to try and help Hannah escape this monster.”

“All those who knew Hannah or had even just met her once would know how much of a beautiful soul she was. Her children (were) her life,” Roberts posted on Facebook.

The page has so far raised almost Aus$100,000 ($67,000).

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the country was “shocked, saddened and devastated” by the tragedy, which has led to an outpouring of grief on social media.

“Hannah and her three children were so senselessly and maddeningly murdered in what has occurred in a terrible act of violence and it just grieves our hearts terribly today,” he said.

Natasha Stott Despoja, a former senator and chair of anti-violence group Our Watch, called for stronger action to address violence against women in Australia, which she described as a “national emergency.”

“I know people want change, people are angry & sad today,” she tweeted. “How long before we stop this slaughter in our suburbs?“

A passer-by who tried to intervene in the situation was also taken to hospital to be treated for facial burns, a Queensland Ambulance Service spokesperson said.

The emergency responders who attended the scene have been stood down from their duties and will receive support, he added.