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Little Change In Honduras Prison Where 362 Died

Garcia is in a position to know it can happen again. Besides being a relative of the dead, he is the warden of the Juticalpa prison northeast of the capital in rural Olancho state. A fire today in the Juticalpa facility of 500 inmates could cause similar devastation because it doesn't have running water to fight a blaze, despite the fact it is one of the country's modern facilities, built in 2007.

Human rights monitors have long criticized Honduras' prison system. Most of the 11,000 inmates in the country's 24 prisons have not yet been found guilty. More than half of the 800 prisoners in Comayagua at the time of the fire were still awaiting trial, according to a Honduran government report sent to the United Nations a year ago.

The Office of Human Rights' investigation into the disaster found "no evidence of criminality in the origin of the fire," Enamorado said.

It began with "a flame in one of the cells that spread in a few minutes," Enamorado said, referring to a report by the Office of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, whose agents investigated the cause. "But there was negligence on the part of authorities in charge of prison security, whose actions could have avoided a death toll of this magnitude."

Despite that finding, the Attorney General's Office is keeping the case open for lack of evidence, he said, awaiting details including autopsy results, the exact number of inmates in the facility that day, whether there was an evacuation plan and the material of the mattresses that burned.

Three of the 362 victims still have yet to be identified; one as never claimed by relatives and two were burned beyond recognition.

The Legal Forensics Department and the Attorney General's Office didn't respond to interview requests to explain the delay.

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