Inside horrific prison massacre where riot police butchered 111 defenceless lags

On this day 29 years ago (October 2, 1992) a jail yard football game sparked a brawl that grew into a 2,069 lag-strong prison riot.

Military police had killed 111 rioters by the end of the day. Some were stripped naked and shot at point blank range, others were picked off by police dogs.

The massacre in Carandiru Penitentiary in São Paulo, Brazil, remains the bloodiest event in the history of the country's infamously savage prison system.

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The initial riot saw prisoners burning mattresses and blocking entrances to cell blocks. Some were reportedly attacking each other with knives and pipes.

It didn't take long for the prison's 15 guards to be overpowered, leading to prison director Dr José Ismael Pedrosa putting in an urgent call to the local military police.

The military police were granted full authority over the prison at 2.30pm.

Dr Pedrosa attempted to negotiate with the rioters using a megaphone for around half an hour, but had to be pulled away from Cellblock 9 by staff as military police stormed in unannounced.

One of the surviving prisoners described what happened next in Amnesty International's report of the massacre: "Police came in firing. They opened the door and told us to get out.

"We said we were unarmed. As one boy got up from the bed to go out a police officer shot at him three times from the doorway. He dragged himself across the floor.

"Then three more police entered. They fired a shot near the toilet area and killed another one.

"A police officer called out 'there are some other ones alive here' and three more police came in with machine guns and fired at the three that were near the toilet."

In the days that followed it became increasingly clear that defenceless prisoners were killed in cold blood.

There were reports that wounded prisoners were taken to the facility's barber shop before military police released their dogs.

Amnesty International reported that some were forced to strip naked and run across the prison, in something akin to British Bulldog, as police beat them and dogs ripped chunks of flesh out of them.

Others were simply shot point blank. Ballistic evidence indicated that 515 bullets were found in those killed.

Despite 63 of the military policemen involved being handed sentences varying from 48 to 624 years in prison, not a single one has served any time after a court ruled the massacre to be an act of self-defence in 2016.

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The UN has urged Brazil to bring them to justice and appeals remain ongoing.

Colonel Ubiratan Guimarães, the commanding officer of the operation, was sentenced to 632 years. He too served no time after a court voided the conviction due to mistrial claims in 2006.

He was also a member of the São Paulo state legislature, but was assassinated in 2006. The leading theory is that he was shot dead over his role in the massacre.

The prison was demolished on December 8, 2002 after years of pressure from human rights groups and international organisations.


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