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Hostage: Police Commandos Killed Inmate Who Surrendered

December 27, 1988

TEPIC, Mexico (AP) _ Members of a special police commando squad that quelled a prison uprising killed at least one inmate after he had surrendered, according to a hostage rescued by the team.

At least five inmates may have been killed after surrendering.

Freed hostage Patricia Castillo said Monday that the commandos entered the Venustiano Carranza state penitentiary on Friday ″shooting indiscriminately .

″The squad was very angry because they (the inmates) had killed their commander. I was very scared. ... There was quite a bit of shooting. They killed all the inmates there, except one.″

Of the four inmates in the room where Castillo spent 32 hours as a hostage, only Jose Martinez Palafox was captured alive, she said.

Martinez’ name is on the list of 25 people who died in the uprising in Tepic, 500 miles northwest of Mexico City. Castillo said Martinez had surrendered: ″He was not wounded. But they killed him anyway.″

A clerk in the prison law office, Castillo was among about 19 hostages seized Thursday by a group of inmates to protest the denial of Christmas pardons for good behavior.

Officials at first said the inmates died during two assaults Friday night. But according to a witness, two hostages and a videotape made by NBC News, only one assault occurred and many mutinous prisoners were still alive afterward.

Five of 13 inmates on the NBC videotape identified themselves to officers with names that appeared on the official list of prisoners who died in the assault. Those five did not include Martinez Palafox.

Brenda Margarita Rubio, a prison records clerk held hostage, also said the inmates surrendered.

Only one prisoner was in the room with her and about a dozen other hostages and that prisoner walked out with his hands raised, she said.

Castillo criticized the governor for calling in the special police squads.

On Monday, Gov. Celso Humberto Delgado Ramirez was quoted in a Tepic newspaper as saying legal sanctions would be taken against those repsonsible for any unwarranted killings.

Efforts to reach Delgado, who reportedly met with federal officials in Mexico City on Monday, were unsuccessful.

Rodolfo Leon, the state attorney general, also promised to investigate the case carefully, including reports inmates who were captured during the commando team assault were killed while in custody.

Earlier Monday, state authorities had denied any knowledge of how five inmates died after they were videotaped while in police custody.

″We are prepared to clear it all up,″ Leon told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. ″Right now it is very complicated. Nothing has been confirmed yet.″

Some prisoners’ bodies had up to 10 bullet wounds, the government news agency Notimex said.

Among those who died before the assault were the prison warden, Samuel Alvarado, and Jorge Armando Duarte Badillo, the Fox squad commander, who officials said was killed while trying to negotiate with the inmates.

One witness, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the prisoners captured after the assault were questioned in a park outside the prison, then taken back inside. Members of the Fox team also entered the prison, and more than 30 gunshots were heard after that.

The death toll was given Friday night as six, but on Saturday jumped to 22, then 24. A state government spokesman said Monday that the confirmed toll was 25.

Update hourly