Protesters storm Madagascar jail

5th March 2013, Comments 0 comments

Prison guards have shot dead a protester in Madagascar when hundreds of people stormed a jail holding the alleged killers of a French nun strangled over the weekend, local police said Tuesday.

The crowd rioted late Monday after the funeral of Marie Emmanuel Helesbeux, 82, in north-eastern town Mandritsara, said local gendarmerie commander Leon Andriamanantena.

"The prison guards opened fire in self-defence. One person died and two were wounded seriously," he said.

The body of Sister Emmanuel, a popular Catholic nun, was found Saturday at a cattle market.

She had spent over four decades on the poor Indian Ocean island and her death sparked local outrage.

Police arrested three men for the killing, reportedly linked to a dispute over debts the nun claimed from her former security guard.

The accused were first held at a local police station, but were then transferred to the prison building over safety concerns after protests Sunday.

The crowd then tried to force the prison gates on Monday.

"Hundreds, even thousands of people tried to invade the prison with projectiles and we couldn't do anything because we didn't have teargas," Andriamanantena told AFP.

In Madagascar criminals are exposed to lynchings. Thieves, murderers or drivers who knock over pedestrians have been killed in mob justice.

© 2013 AFP

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