Prisoner seizes Iraqis

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The Independent Online
Two Iraqi men accused of hijacking a Sudanese airliner two weeks ago were recovering in hospital yesterday after being taken hostage by one of Britain's most violent prisoners at a high-security jail where they are being held.

Convicted robber Michael Peterson, who calls himself Charles Bronson after the Hollywood actor, took three men hostage at 9am yesterday in a cell inside Belmarsh Prison, south-east London. One was released soon afterwards, but the others were kept in the cell.

The Prison Service confirmed the "hostage situation" was brought to a peaceful conclusion at 4.30pm, when the two hijack suspects were released.

Negotiators had been working inside the jail to defuse the tense stand- off since the morning. Sources close to the prison named Peterson, a body- builder, as the hostage-taker. During the incident, a Prison Service spokesman said, he was armed, but not with a gun.

Peterson is one of the country's most notorious criminals, known for his strength and aggression. Two years ago, while in Hull jail, he captured the prison's deputy governor, Adrian Wallis, and held him for five hours.

After the incident involving Mr Wallis, Peterson was moved to Wakefield jail, where he was housed in a cell resembling the one in which Hannibal Lecter, the serial killer character, was incarcerated in the film, Silence of the Lambs.

Peterson's two hostages were among seven Iraqis charged with air piracy after a Sudan Airways Airbus was hijacked en route from Khartoum to Amman two weeks ago. The hijackers forced the pilot to fly to London after refuelling in Cyprus. They were arrested after freeing their ho-stages when the plane landed at Stansted airport. They are due to appear in court again tomorrow.