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Brazil Reportedly Agrees to Give Guns, Cars to Hostage-Holding Inmates

March 31, 1996

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AP) _ The government agreed Saturday to provide guns and getaway cars to inmates holding hostages in a three-day prison revolt, the head of Brazil’s bar association said.

Inmates at the maximum-security Agro-Industrial Penitentiary seized 40 people Thursday during an inspection of the prison, crowded to nearly twice its intended capacity of 450 prisoners. Inmates later released 17 hostages in exchange for food and water.

The 23 remaining captives include judges, police officers and a television camera crew. One hostage, the head of the state justice tribunal, was in urgent need of medical care, according to the prisoners.

Inmates have surrounded the hostages with gasoline canisters, which they threaten to ignite if police rush the prison.

The government agreed Saturday to outfit 30 inmates with five cars, revolvers and $20,000, and allow them to take five hostages with them, said Eli Forte of the Brazilian Bar Association.

It was unclear when the inmate group would set out from the prison, in the small town of Aparecida de Goiania, about 580 miles northwest of Rio.

Earlier Saturday, inmate ringleader Leonardo Pareja shouted ``Liberty or nothing!″ as inmates with hostages scaled a wall for journalists to film. The inmates set fire to some mattresses for emphasis.

One hostage, state law enforcement secretary Antonio Lorenzo Filho, was allowed to speak to reporters. He said that none of the hostages had been hurt, criticized alleged mistreatment of prison inmates, and made a plea to negotiators for a quick resolution.

Pareja, a kidnapper and bank robber, has repeatedly said ``there will be a tragedy″ if police storm the prison. Pareja made headlines in Brazil last year by eluding a massive manhunt and mocking police efforts to nab him before finally negotiating terms for his surrender.

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