Venezuela's El Rodeo prison officials charged

An unidentified woman passes with a child near a line of National Guard soldiers outside El Rodeo II prison in Guatire, Venezuela. Photo: June 2011 Troops controlled areas outside the El Rodeo prison in Venezuela for nearly a month

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Venezuelan prosecutors have charged two former prison governors and a soldier with corruption, following June's riot that killed 22 people at their prison.

They were also charged with facilitating the trafficking of arms and drugs and associating with criminals in El Rodeo jail.

The riot at the jail, outside Caracas, began after a fight between rival inmate gangs of prisoners.

National Guards were then sent to search the jail for drugs and guns.

But one group of heavily armed prisoners refused to surrender, leading to a stand-off which went on for almost a month.

Overcrowding

The former governor of one half of the El Rodeo prison was arrested alongside the deputy governor of the other section of the jail and a captain of the National Guard who worked at the prison in late June.

In a statement, the public prosecutors' office said the three had been charged with corruption and have been remanded in custody to await trial.

In response to the events at El Rodeo, President Hugo Chavez created a new prisons ministry, which recently announced plans to release almost half the country's inmates in order to ease overcrowding.

Venezuela's prisons house more than twice the number of inmates they were originally designed for and violence amongst prisoners is commonplace.

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