Riots at 27 Italian Prisons: Inmates Escape, Set Fires over Coronavirus

Inmates stand on the roof of the San Vittore prison to protest after restrictions that were imposed on family visits to prevent coronavirus transmissions, in Milan, Italy, Monday, March 9, 2020. Italian penitentiary police say six inmates protesting virus containment measures at the northern Italian prison of Modena have died …
AP Photo/Antonio Calanni

Prisoners in Italy are rioting at roughly 27 prisons across the country over fears stemming from the nation’s ongoing coronavirus epidemic. The riots have resulted in at least eight deaths, beatings of guards, prison escapes, and fires being set to the penitentiaries.

Unrest ensued at a prison in the city of Campobasso — the capital of Italy’s southern Molise region — on Tuesday as inmates set fire to the penitentiary in protest of inmates being transferred to the prison from another prison in Modena, where six people have died as a result of rioting on Monday, according to a report by il Quotidiano del Molise.

Inmates in 27 different prisons across Italy have been rioting over fears of what is transpiring on the outside due to the Wuhan coronavirus, as they demand amnesty, as well as calling for measures to be taken to prevent their risk of becoming infected with the disease.

Inmates set fire at the Campobasso prison on Tuesday.

On Monday, Italian senator and former deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini tweeted a video of one of the prison breaks from a penitentiary in Foggia, Italy.

“While our law enforcement agencies do everything they can to protect us, anarchists and social centers incite detainees,” tweeted Salvini.

“To handle this serious emergency of the detention centers, you need the iron fist of an Extraordinary Commissioner who can bring back order and respect for the law,” he added.

Fifty prisoners managed to break out of the prison in Foggia on Monday, according to Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata (ANSA), which added that police had managed to stop 30 of the 50 prisoners, suggesting that 20 prisoners maybe still be at large.

The report added that violent riots have also taken place at prisons in Milan and in Rome, where inmates set fire to mattresses. At the prison in Milan, inmates also took to the roof to protest recent visitor restrictions due to the coronavirus.

In Foggia — located in Italy’s southern Apulia region — prisoners set fire on the roof while other inmates scaled the gates.

In Verona prison — located in Italy’s northern Veneto region — two inmates died after taking drugs that they had stolen during a revolt over the weekend.

At another prison in Pavia — just south of Milan — prison guards were taken hostage and beaten by inmates.

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

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