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Six Prisoners End Elba Siege, Free Hostages

September 01, 1987|United Press International

ISLAND OF ELBA, Italy — Six convicted murderers ended an eight-day prison siege today, surrendering peacefully and releasing their 28 hostages unharmed after Italy's longest jail takeover since World War II.

Prison officials said the end of the drama came at 11:35 a.m. when the prisoners released the hostages they had held for more than 193 hours.

"I hope we have not lost your friendship," revolt leader Mario Tuti told prison officials after the surrender. "We did not use violence. We had nothing against you, but we had no hope but to try to escape. Unfortunately things went badly."

Officials said the surrender took place after a second round of talks with defense lawyers and an Amnesty International representative. There was no immediate word on what concessions the inmates were granted.

Weeping Relatives Wait

Weeping relatives of the hostages who had waited day and night in a room of the fortress jail on the outskirts of Porto Azzurro cheered and embraced after the inmates surrendered. Church bells rang out across the little fishing village.

The prison revolt, which was led by Tuti, 40, a neo-fascist terrorist, began when the convicts seized hostages at gunpoint at 10:30 a.m. Aug. 25.

Throughout the siege, the prisoners pressed for a helicopter to make their escape from the island, but their request was refused.

During the siege, more than 2,000 police from across central Italy were camped inside the prison, a 17th-Century fortress reached by a drawbridge. They included parachutists and 50 members of the Interior Ministry anti-terrorist squad, known as the "leatherheads."

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