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HOSTAGE. A person delivered into the possession of a public enemy in the time of war, as a security for the performance of a contract entered into between the belligerents.
     2. Hostages are frequently given as a security for the payment of a ransom bill, and if they should die, their death would not discharge the contract. 3 Burr. 1734; 1 Kent, Com. 106; Dane's Ab. Index, h.t.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in periodicals archive ?
The hostage-taker opened fire as the police raided the house where he was lodged with his hostages,
A team of some 50 to 70 well-trained hostage-takers, who had seized more than 1,200 hostages, most of them children, were strategically positioned around the school along with 127 explosive devices that could be activated by three terrorists positioned in different parts of the building.
Police said the hostage-takers had been armed with handguns.
Police officials said the hostage-taker, identified as Fumio Motohashi, 51, a house-construction carpenter, indicated that he killed a man, and police officers, acting on directions given by the suspect, found a dead man with gunshot wounds on the head in the wooded area of Mishima Tuesday night.
The potential for miscommunication between the CNT, hostage-taker, and tactical team is high.
After seizing the hostages on Wednesday night Movsar - the only member of the hostage-takers to appear on Russian TV without a mask - warned that his rebels would kill the hostages if Russia did not withdraw from Chechnya within a week.
Structural theory recognizes that sources of power vary across types of hostage crises and that an astute hostage-taker can exploit the power that emanates from the physical setting to neutralize the opposing power of a state.
Multiple hostages/single hostage-taker. These scenarios are slightly more dangerous because the hostage-taker can harm one or more of the hostages and still have bargaining power.
France Info radio said that police were setting up a perimeter around a cafe and tobacco outlet in the town and they said the hostage-taker had taken five hostages and they observed he was armed and was threatening to shoot at police as they were surrounding the cafe.
Had it been a real crisis, Albayalde said the safety of members of media was put in jeopardy as they are faced with an armed and dangerous hostage-taker.
To view more pictures click here Separately, Le Monde newspaper quoted a police official as saying that the hostage-taker at a separate stand-off at a kosher supermarket in eastern Paris had also been killed.
Sydney Siege victim Tori Johnson was reportedly executed at close range by hostage-taker Man Haron Monis.