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Bolivian inmate kills ex-wife during visit, buries her in cell – nobody notices for a year

Army soldiers walk outside the Palmasola prison on July 10, 2015 in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.

Army soldiers walk outside the Palmasola prison on July 10, 2015 in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.  (2015 Getty Images)

An inmate apparently killed his ex-wife and buried her beneath his cell in Bolivia's largest prison — with nobody taking notice for nearly a year, officials said Thursday. 

Chief prosecutor Gomer Padilla told The Associated Press that the body was found after a fellow inmate confessed to helping bury Kenia Hidalgo Cespedes.

The prosecutor said the alleged killer, Marco Antonio Ramirez, apparently failed to pay the conspirator an agreed-on $278 to keep silent.

"There are some investigations pending but all elements show that the skeletal remains belong to the ex-wife of this man who was already sentenced for murder," Padilla said.

Ramirez is serving a 30-year sentence for killing another former girlfriend. His former wife apparently visited to discuss the sale of a jointly owned apartment.

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Bolivian law allows inmates to have unsupervised visits.

Padilla said investigators are probing the responsibility of personnel at the notorious Palmasola prison, which Pope Francis visited last year.

The case highlights the chaos at the badly overcrowded prison on the outskirts of the Bolivian city of Santa Cruz. Inside its walls, inmates run the prison, drugs are cheaper than on the street and money buys survival.

During a 2013 struggle for control of the cellblock holding Palmasola's most violent inmates, one gang attacked its rivals with machetes and home-made flamethrowers. The 36 fatalities included a 1-year-old. It was modern Bolivia's deadliest prison riot.

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