Three Italian Inmates Die During Prison Riot over Coronavirus, Officers Taken Hostage and Beaten

A health personnel wearing a respiratory mask walks across the SantAnna prison in Modena, Emilia-Romagna, in one of Italy's quarantine red zones on March 9, 2020. - Inmates in four Italian prisons have revolted over new rules introduced to contain the coronavirus outbreak, leaving one prisoner dead and others injured, …

Three inmates died during a riot that broke out over the coronavirus at a prison in Modena, Italy, on Sunday afternoon. In Pavia, Italy, two prison guards were taken hostage and beaten during a separate revolt at another prison.

Italian prisoners angered over visitation limits due to Italy’s new rules regarding the coronavirus — as well as fear of what is transpiring on the outside due to the virus, and the fear of possibly becoming infected — have resulted in prison riots, according to a report by La Repubblica.

The report added that three prisoners were left dead at Modena prison on Sunday afternoon, while two prison guards at a penitentiary in Pavia, Italy, were taken hostage and beaten by inmates during a very intense riot in which prisoners had stolen cell keys from guards and freed dozens of fellow inmates.

Protests also occurred at prisons in Salerno, Naples, Frosinone, Vercelli, Alessandria, Palermo, Bari, and Foggia.

In Modena, a cloud of thick black smoke could be seen rising from the prison, as inmates had ignited a fire in an attempt to escape, reports Il Resto del Carlino. Meanwhile, agents in riot gear were deployed while a police helicopter flew overhead.

Outside the Neapolitan prison of Poggioreale, relatives of the prisoners blocked traffic in protest, as they asked for pardon, amnesty, or house arrest for their inmates.

A video of the incident was tweeted out by Italian senator and former deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini on Sunday.

“Very serious situation,” said Salvini, who leads the right-populist League. “It is necessary to contain the escalation by giving emergency powers to the department commanders.”

Meanwhile, inmates inside the prison protested by barricading themselves as they called for measures to be taken to prevent their risk of becoming infected with the coronavirus. Two officers suffered minor injuries during the incident.

In a similar situation at a prison in Bari, a group of prisoners’ relatives reportedly protested the provisions being taken to deal with the coronavirus, which includes limitations on visits with prisoners, according to La Repubblica.

While the prisoners’ relatives — roughly 30 women — protested outside, inmates set fire to handkerchiefs that they waved between the bars of the windows.

As prison riots spring up throughout Italy, the nation has surpassed South Korea in confirmed coronavirus cases, making Italy the most heavily infected country in the world after China.

As of Sunday, the total confirmed cases of Chinese coronavirus have risen from 5,883 to 7,375, with the death toll surging 57 per cent in just 24 hours.

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.


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