U.S. Experts Will Help in Investigation of Fire at Honduran Prison

By Dialogo
February 21, 2012

On February 16, the United States announced that it has sent forensic experts to collaborate with the investigation of the prison fire in Honduras that killed 355 prisoners, at the request of that country’s authorities.

The experts are part of an international response team at the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) that collaborates on the investigation of large fires and explosions, a statement explained.

“The ATF lead element of the team will arrive today (February 16) and begin reconstructing the scene, identifying the origin of the fire, conducting interviews, and sifting through debris to obtain evidence related to the blaze,” the agency indicated.

The fire occurred between the night of February 14 and the early morning of February 15 in the Comayagua penitentiary, in central Honduras, which housed more than 850 prisoners, twice its capacity.

Porfirio Lobo’s administration requested the assistance through the U.S. State Department. Other international experts are already collaborating with the Central American country’s authorities.

ATF indicated that the response team, in existence since 1978, has already worked in Latin American countries on previous occasions, such as in Colombia, following an attack that killed 32 people at a nightclub in Bogotá, and in the Dominican Republic, where it recovered explosive devices in 2008.