April 22, 2024


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One dead as Italian prisons revolt over COVID-19 outbreak measures

ROME: Inmates in four Italian prisons have revolted over new rules introduced to contain the coronavirus outbreak, leaving one prisoner dead and others injured, a prison rights group said Sunday (Mar 8).

Prisoners at jails in Naples Poggioreale in the south, Modena in the north, Frosinone in central Italy and at Alexandria in the northwest had all revolted over measures including a ban on family visits, unions said.

READ: Italy has highest COVID-19 deaths, infections after China as death toll spikes to 366

Similar scenes played out in Padova in the north and Bari, Foggia and Palermo in the south, media reports said.

Rights group Antigone said an inmate had died at the Modena jail, though the circumstances were not yet clear.

“We had already warned tensions were growing in prisons, and that we feared it could end in tragedy,” it said in a statement following the revolts.

“All necessary measures must be taken to ensure prisoners their full rights, stopping this escalation of tension and preventing others from dying. One death is already too much,” it said.

At Modena, near Bologna, two prison officers were injured and around 20 staff members had to leave the prison.

Prison officers union Sappe said about 80 prisoners had been transferred to other jails after the uprising.

The uprisings came as Italy issued new nationwide rules to try and stem the spread of the virus, which has killed 366 people so far and infected 7,375.

It is now the second-worst affected country in the world, behind China.


“The inmates that have been moved were those who managed to reach the yard in a bid to escape,” Sappe’s secretary general Giovanni Battista Durante said.

“We are told other prisoners inside the jail have barricaded themselves in and probably have illegal weapons”.

He said colleagues from the prison had told him the jail had been “completely destroyed”.

At the Torre del Gallo jail in Pavia, south of Milan, two guards were reportedly taken temporarily hostage, enabling prisoners to steal the keys and release their fellow convicts.

Italian media said there were unconfirmed reports of violence against guards and between rival prisoner gangs.

The Repubblica daily said reinforcement guards were being sent in to try and restore order.

READ: WHO praises Italy’s ‘genuine sacrifices’ to slow virus

The revolt began after relatives of the inmates held a protest outside the gates over the measures preventing them from seeing their loved ones, the Stampa newspaper said.

At Frosinone, south of Rome, police were called in to restore order after about 100 prisoners barricaded themselves into a section of the prison.

The protesting inmates drew up a list of demands, including the right to have visits, and tried to negotiate with the prison management, the Agi news agency reported.

Families of some of the inmates at Poggioreale, a suburb of Naples, gathered outside the prison to support them.

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