Photo: File

Sao Paulo - A Brazilian court Thursday convicted ten policemen for their roles in a 1992 massacre of 111 prisoners at Carandiru jail in Sao Paulo, bringing the total convictions to 58.

The massacre is among the worst mass killings to have taken place in Latin America's notoriously overcrowded jails.

“Nine defendants were sentenced to 96 years in jail and another to 104 years in jail,” the court spokesman told AFP.

Two other policemen, who had also been due to stand trial this week, died before they could take the stand.

The case against a total of 79 officers has been divided into four parts -- one for each of four floors of the prison where the rebellion was suppressed.

In April last year, 23 police were handed 156-year jail terms and, in a second judgment in August, a further 25 officers received 624-year terms -- although under Brazilian law they will serve a maximum of 30 years.

The trial of the remaining defendants, which was due to be heard last month, was postponed after the defense counsel quit.

That phase will now be heard from March 31.

Prosecutors have argued that the inmates were executed, while the defense has claimed police officers were being threatened and fired in self-defense

No police officers were injured during the massacre at the jail, which at the time held 8,000 inmates and was reputed to be the largest in Latin America.

Forensic evidence presented in last year's trial indicated that at least 90 percent of the prisoners who were killed died from gunshot wounds to the head and neck, and that many were shot while kneeling or lying down.

The prison commander at the time of the massacre, Colonel Ubiratan Guimaraes, was the first to be convicted, receiving a 632-year sentence in 2001, only to be acquitted on appeal five years later.

He was found dead from a gunshot wound in his Sao Paulo apartment some months later.

The Carandiru prison was demolished in 2002.