Former Venezuelan basketball star killed in prison brawl


A confrontation among inmates at a prison in Venezuela left three men dead, including former professional basketball player Carlos Morris, police and sports sources said Thursday.

Morris, known as “El Nene”, played 20 seasons in Venezuela’s professional league and starred for the team that won the 2011 national tournament.

He was fatally shot Wednesday during the brawl at the Cumana city jail, Carmelo Cortez, president of the Venezuelan Basketball Federation, said in a Twitter message.

“We deplore the sad ending of Carlos Morris, who was a key player for the 2011 championship,” his former club, the Marinos, said via Twitter.

A pair of prosecutors, one assigned from Caracas and the other in Cumana, will coordinate investigations by forensic and police experts “to determine the criminal responsibilities in this incident”, the attorney general’s office said in a statement.

Morris had been behind bars for a year on charges of kidnapping and extortion.

Two months ago, the UN Commission against Torture denounced “the tragic situation in Venezuela’s prison system”, pointing to overcrowding as the main cause of the crisis in the country’s penitentiaries, which are operating at 231 percent of capacity on average.

The Observatorio Venezolano de Prisiones, an NGO that monitors the prison system, said 150 inmates died in detention during the first half of 2014, compared with 506 for all of 2013.

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