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Brazil court gives 624-year jail terms over prison riot massacre

A Brazilian court has sentenced 25 police officers to a total of 624 years each in prison over their role in a massacre of prison inmates more than two decades ago. More than 100 prisoners were killed following a riot.

The sentencing on Saturday was the latest in a series of separate trails for police officers accused of summarily executing prisoners in the 1992 massacre.

Each officer was sentenced to 624 years for their use of deadly force to put down rioting among inmates.

The court sentenced the officers after finding them guilty of the killings of 52 of the 111 prisoners who lost their lives. Many died of multiple gunshot wounds.

Judge Rodrigo Tellini read out the sentence, which was reached by a seven-person jury. He said there had been a "clear abuse of power" by the police. Those sentenced may appeal before they have to go to jail.

Military police stormed Sao Paulo's Carandiru prison in 1992 to subdue a riot that erupted when two rival gangs began fighting. The dispute was said to have stemmed from a quarrel during a game of football.

The jury arrived at the sentence after a week-long trial. It was the second part of a legal process that was broken into four. A total of 79 military police officers have been accused of killing the prisoners.

The revolt and subsequent massacre exposed the tough conditions of prisons in much of Latin American and were the subject of a 2003 film, titled Carandiru.

In April, a court sentenced a separate group of 23 police officers to 156 years in prison for their involvement in killing 13 inmates during the massacre.

rc/pfd (dpa, Reuters)