Waikeria prison riot: 17 men accused of starting fire, one due in court

An inmate accused of instigating a fiery uprising at Waikeria prison has been charged.

Seventeen men are accused of deliberately starting the fire that extensively damaged Waikato Prison.

The charge carries a maximum 14-year jail term.

The riot consumed the prison’s high-security complex from December 29 to January 3.

The 17 men were named in court documents, accused of being in a group jointly using violence. That charge carries a two-year maximum jail term.

The riot over the New Year holidays was the biggest in New Zealand for decades.

The destruction of Waikeria’s high-security complex required more than 200 inmates to be moved to other prisons.

On January 3, the unruly prisoners surrendered and received food, water and access to medical staff.

The alleged rioters were also charged with entering part of the facility illegally and using a steel pole, wooden seat and “specialised breaching tool” as weapons.

At least one of the accused men is due to appear in Auckland District Court later today.

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