RIO DE JANEIRO: After days of silence, Brazilian President Michel Temer said on Thursday that the killing of 60 inmates in two Amazon prisons was a "dreadful accident" and that public agencies have no clear responsibility because the prison where most died was run by a private company.
Four prisons in the Northern state of Amazonas saw riots Sunday and Monday and one of them suffered the worst bloodshed at a prison of the South American country since 1992, with half of the slain beheaded and several others also dismembered.
"The prison was outsourced and privatized and therefore there was not an objective, clear and defined responsibility of the public agents," Temer said at a Cabinet meeting in the capital, Brasilia.
Claudio Lamachia, the chairman of Brazil's bar association, disagreed.
"The fact that the prison was run by a third party does not exempt the public agents from surveilling, following up and policing the facility," Lamachia told The Associated Press.
The Amazonas section of the bar association is suing the state government, accusing it of negligence, and a judge has given state Gov. Jose Melo until the end of the week to respond to the accusation. If courts determine the governor was negligent, he potentially could be ousted.
State authorities say the incident began when local Family of the North gang attacked members of Sao Paulo-based First Command, Brazil's biggest criminal organization. The two fight over the control of prisons and drug routes in northern Brazil.
Temer also promised to build five prisons to address overcrowding nationwide. He did not detail where those would be placed.
A total of 184 inmates escaped from Amazonas prisons in the disturbances. Only 65 had been recaptured as of Thursday afternoon, according to police.