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Warden, guards charged in deadly riot

CARACAS, Venezuela -- Authorities in Venezuela said Wednesday that they are filing criminal charges against a prison warden and five guards after a riot that left 47 inmates dead and dozens more injured.

Prison guards could have used less lethal force to quell the riot, such as firing tear gas and warning shots, Attorney General Tarek William Saab said in a nationwide broadcast. He said four inmates accused of leading the uprising also are being held responsible.

"No one will be allowed to evade their unfortunate responsibility," Saab said. "This is reprehensible."

The riot broke out May 1 at the Llanos Penitentiary Center in the central Venezuela state of Portuguesa when inmates protested, demanding that their relatives be allowed to deliver them food during visits, officials have said.

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In addition to those killed, another 69 people were injured in the violent clash, Saab said.

The five guards are accused of homicide and abuse of power, while prosecutors say the four inmates suspected of instigating the riot are accused of homicide and arms trafficking.

The warden is accused of being an accomplice to letting illegal weapons inside the prison, Saab said. Officials have previously said that the warden was among the injured, suffering a knife injury.

Polish lawmakers adjust rules on voting

WARSAW, Poland -- Polish lawmakers have changed the rules for the country's postponed presidential election to make it a vote in person at polling stations with an option of voting by mail. No date for the vote has been set yet.

The changes to the electoral law that were approved late Tuesday come after the election set for Sunday was postponed after political infighting over its timing during the coronavirus pandemic.

Officials could not ready an all-postal vote in time and the opposition said it was not fair that their candidates could not campaign during the coronavirus lockdown while President Andrzej Duda often appeared on state television.

The vote in favor of the new electoral legislation was 244-137 with 77 abstentions. It still needs to be approved by the Senate and the president.

The Parliament speaker still has to announce the new date for the election, that has to occur before late July.

Duda, whose term expires on Aug. 6, is seeking reelection and leads opinion polls ahead of nine other candidates. He is required to be above party politics by law but often sides with the ruling Law and Justice party.

Niger says Boko Haram fighters slain

NIAMEY, Niger -- Niger's Defense Ministry says 75 fighters with the Boko Haram extremist group were killed in two operations this week.

Niger's forces killed at least 25 on Monday after opening offensive against Boko Haram fighters who attacked military positions over the weekend, the ministry said late Tuesday. During the offensive in the southern Diffa region, Nigerien forces destroyed several explosive devices.

Also Monday, forces from Niger, Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon carried out air raids on islands in Lake Chad sheltering Boko Haram fighters, killing at least 50 in Nigerian territory, the ministry said.

The operations occurred days after jihadis associated with another extremist group attacked three villages in western Niger near its border with Mali, killing at least 20 people.

Detention of Serbian priests stirs unrest

PODGORICA, Montenegro -- Serbia on Wednesday strongly protested the detention of eight Serbian Orthodox Church priests in Montenegro after thousands of people attended a religious procession despite a ban on gatherings because of the coronavirus.

Montenegrin prosecutors said that the priests are facing charges of violating health regulations during the virus outbreak by organizing the procession on Tuesday in the western town of Niksic.

Most people participating in the procession didn't wear masks or keep a safe distance from one another.

Angry over the arrests, supporters of the Serbian Orthodox Church blocked a regional road in northern Montenegro on Wednesday, according to the state Montenegrin RTCG television. The report said that a long line of blocked cars formed down the road.

The detentions heightened tensions between the small Adriatic state and Serbia and its church, which earlier this year led weeks of protests against a religious law that it says would strip the church of its property. Montenegrin officials have repeatedly denied the allegations.

Serbia's president, Aleksandar Vucic, and Serbian Orthodox Church Patriarch Irinej said in a joint statement Wednesday that they hope the arrests won't spark any "unwanted unrest or clashes."

The patriarch said the detentions "are only a proof that the Montenegrin state is conducting a purge of the Serbian Orthodox Church."

Vucic urged a peaceful resolution of the crisis and a quick release of the priests.

Montenegro, a country of 620,000 people, split from much larger Serbia in a referendum in 2006.

A Section on 05/14/2020

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