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Reports: Bombing on Brazilian flight may have been suicide attempt

July 19, 1997

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AP) _ An explosion aboard a Brazilian airliner that hurled a man 8,000 feet to his death may have been part of a failed suicide attempt by another passenger, Brazilian media reported Saturday.

Major newspapers cited Federal Police as saying they intend to question a 58-year-old unemployed math teacher about the July 9 explosion aboard a TAM Airlines Fokker flight between Vitoria and Sao Paulo.

The blast blew a hole in the fuselage, killing a 38-year-old man and injuring six other passengers. The jet, which had 60 people aboard, made an emergency landing in Sao Paulo.

Police believe Leonardo Teodoro de Castro, a Sao Paulo teacher who boarded the plane in Sao Jose dos Campos, placed the bomb under his seat in a suicide attempt, newspapers reported. De Castro suffered extensive hearing damage in the explosion.

Three days after the blast, de Castro was struck by a bus and seriously injured.

Police grew suspicious of de Castro because he told investigators that he had been in Sao Jose dos Campos to interview for a teaching position but gave them a fictitious name for the school, the reports said.

Pedro Sarzi, a Sao Paulo police official, told O Globo that de Castro had 13 life insurance policies.

Police searched de Castro’s home and took several boxes of evidence. No charges have been filed against him.

A police spokesman declined to comment Saturday to The Associated Press. He said a report on the explosion would be released Monday.

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