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Recaptured inmate accuses prison CEO of intentionally exposing prisoners to COVID-19, Prison CEO refutes claim

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Posted: Wednesday, February 3, 2021. 9:36 am CST.

By BBN Staff: Erwin Lanza, one of the last prisoners from the October 2020 prison break to be recaptured, said that he had to escape the Belize Central Prison because Chief Executive Officer, Virgilio Murillo, was deliberately exposing inmates to COVID-19.

Lanza was arraigned in the Belize City Magistrate’s Court yesterday and stressed that he joined the group of 28 prisoners who broke out on October 12, 2020, out of pure desperation.

“My reason for escaping is because Virgilio Murrillo was putting people who had Corona with us who neva had it,” Lanza said.

He was sentenced to two years in prison to run consecutively with the four years he was already spending for a firearm offense, giving him six years total. Lanza was arraigned alongside fellow escapee Michael Faux, who said he was compelled to escape because of the harsh conditions of the prison.

Our newsroom spoke with Murillo over the allegations today, who said that his efforts since last year have been focused on controlling the presence of the virus in the prison, not spreading it.

“Remember we had a massive outbreak back in October and we went into mitigation mode. We were one of the only prisons in the Caribbean as a whole that went on a compulsory 21-day lockdown,” Murillo said. “When that lockdown was over, we only had six (remaining) cases out of 100.”

Murillo said that it was an unpopular decision that also contributed to a riot at the prison; however, it was a decision that had to be made to keep the virus from running rampant throughout the facility.

With respect to the conditions in the prison, Murillo said, “A prison is about keeping order and control. At the end of the day, it is not a holiday camp. It is not a five-star hotel. We won’t abuse their human rights, but they certainly won’t have all the amenities  that they have when in society.”

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