April 17, 2000
Head of Argentina's federal prison system resigns amid scandal

                   BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) -- The head of the federal prison system
                   resigned Monday, departing amid accusations of rampant corruption among

                   Alfredo Ayala submitted his resignation in the wake of accusations that corrupt
                   guards sold "good behavior" certificates or allowed some prisoners out
                   prematurely. Ayala denied the corruption and blamed exaggerations in the local
                   media for his downfall.

                   Among the more severe charges, a federal judge last week alleged that corrupt
                   guards had permitted inmates to leave a penitentiary with instructions to kill him.
                   Judge Jorge Banos has spent two years investigating corruption in the prisons.

                   Authorities on Sunday sacked the leaders of the prison unit that coordinates the
                   guards. Interior Minister Federico Storani said the shakeup marked the start of a
                   "thorough cleansing" of the system, news agency Diarios y Noticias said.

                   President Fernando De la Rua, who took office in December, has said battling
                   corruption would be a hallmark of his four-year administration. Among other
                   areas, his administration is also probing corruption in state health care

                   Copyright 2000 The Associated Press.