Argentine guards jailed for life over fatal prison beating

BUENOS AIRES: Five Argentine guards were sentenced to life in prison Friday for beating to death an inmate after a trial that exposed the use of torture in the country's crowded jails, a humanitarian organisation said.

The beating death of 26-year-old Patricio Barros Cisneros in 2012 brought to light the prison problems in the province of Buenos Aires and led to the guards' convictions.

Barros Cisneros's death also sparked an investigation into the heads of the prison service, who allegedly tried to cover up facts in the case.

The Center for Legal Social Studies (CELS) hailed the sentence as a "historic" judgement against the prison service in Buenos Aires.

"The sentence accounts for the levels of abuse the PS (Prison Service) wields against detainees and establishes that the exercise of violence by state officials against people in their custody constitutes the crime of torture," the group said in a statement.

In 2014 the province of Buenos Aires reached its highest number of detainees in 15 years, with 60% of those held without a court judgement, according to latest figures released by the organisation.

It reports Buenos Aires prison overcrowding at about 70%. – AFP