April 6, 1996 in Nation/World

Escaped Prisoner Treated As Hero

Compiled From Wire Services

First he led a six-day prison revolt, taking judges and police as hostages. Then he escaped, heavily armed, with about 40 other inmates.

Leonardo Pareja, convicted kidnapper and bank-robber, is hardly a model citizen.

Yet, that’s how he was being treated Friday, following his surrender after a shootout with police.

“He’s a heck of a person and without him, the hostages would not all be alive,” said Nicola Limonji Filho, director of the Agro-Industrial Penitentiary and himself a hostage during the prison standoff.

During his day on the loose, Pareja was treated as a celebrity, signing autographs at a truck stop.

Brazilian police have captured 21 of the inmates who fled the top-security prison this week but were still searching for 21 others.

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