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Cubans Free One Hostage, Spurn Offers of Reviews

November 24, 1987|Associated Press

ATLANTA — Rebellious Cubans freed one hostage today but held on to more than 100 others at federal prisons in Atlanta and Oakdale, La., spurning offers of a case-by-case review of threatened deportations with shows of defiance and crude weapons.

A prison guard who suffers from high blood pressure was released by inmates at the U.S. Penitentiary in Atlanta, Warden Joseph Petrovsky said, but as many as 75 hostages were still held. He said one inmate had been killed in the rebellion there.

"The negotiating team since 7:15 last night has been dealing with at least 12 leaders or groups of leaders," Petrovsky said, adding that the inmates were not accepting an offer by Atty. Gen. Edwin Meese III of a case-by-case review.

"As long as the hostages are not being injured, and as long as we're making headway, we're going to negotiate this thing out," Petrovsky said. He said 315 inmates had surrendered since the takeover began Monday morning.

Inmates of the Oakdale Federal Detention Center in Louisiana, who took over the facility on Saturday, brought two of their 28 hostages to a gate today to show that they were being well-treated.

Called 'Positive Sign'

Warden J. R. Johnson called that a "positive sign," but the Louisiana inmates brandished crude weapons and continued to demand their freedom. "Liberty or die," said one slogan painted in the yard.

Sen. John B. Breaux (D-La.) hoped to meet today with the inmates' spokesman, identified only as "Angel." Sharpshooters manned the perimeter of the compound, and water, electricity and gas had been turned off.

"We want to be free," said Fernando Lugo, an Atlanta inmate who phoned a television station. "If they try to pass the wall and do anything crazy and they gonna shoot . . . everybody is gonna die in this place. . . . We've been tired. We've been here locked up for five, six, seven year(s)."

In Texas, law enforcement officers said today that they had captured one of six Cubans who escaped from a detention center on Sunday. Eleven other escapees had been recaptured earlier.

All three incidents followed the announcement Friday that Cuba has agreed to accept 2,545 excludable refugees, mostly criminals or mentally ill, who had come to the United States in the 1980 exodus from the port of Mariel.

Fires which destroyed three buildings at the 85-year-old Atlanta penitentiary on Monday flared again this morning, and fire department helicopters dumped water on the flames. Fire trucks and personnel have not been inside the prison.

Petrovsky, while confirming that one inmate was killed in Atlanta denied reports that the death toll was as high as six. Hospitals reported that eight inmates and three prison employees were treated for injuries, including five inmates who suffered gunshot wounds.

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