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Monday, 18 November, 2002, 11:33 GMT
'Miss Captivity' crowned in Lithuania jail
'Samanta', Miss Captivity 2002
Prisoner "Samanta" took the winner's crown
From behind bars, Lithuanian prisoner "Samanta" is celebrating being crowned "Miss Captivity".

She was one of 38 entrants in the beauty contest at Panevezys Penal Labour Colony, about 140 kilometres (85 miles) north of the capital Vilnius.


[The show was an] attempt to find beauty where you might think there is none

Arunas Valinskas, TV producer
"This is the best day of my life," the black-haired, petite winner said, after winning the contest on Thursday.

The final winner would only give a pseudonym, "Samanta", and refused to say how what for and long her sentence was - though the news agency AFP said her name was Kristina and that she was halfway through a four-year jail term.

The winner said she would like to "get out of prison right now" to pursue a modelling career.

"I hope it will change my life for the better," she said.

Miss Captivity 2002 wins a prize of 4,000 litas (740) - but will only receive it after her release.

Inga, 31, won second prize and 2,500 litas, and Tatjana, 25, took third prize and 1,000 litas.

Knee-high boots

The eight finalists in the beauty pageant displayed their sartorial elegance in formal dresses designed by a famous Lithuanian fashion designer and wedding gowns.

They then took part in two parades clad in bikinis - twinned with fur in the first and black leather, including knee-high boots, in the second.

Winners (from left to right) second prize-winner Inga, Samanta, and runner-up Tatjana
Winners won't receive prize money until their release
Participants were excused from work in the prison's sewing factory for the week of the contest.

The contest, held in the prison auditorium, was adjudicated by local dignitaries and attended by nearly 100 of the jail's 500 inmates, where some are serving sentences for murder.

According to AFP, the audience at first seemed a bit on edge, but later relaxed and sang together.

Prison officials organised the show in tandem with Arunas Valinskas, a television producer.

He said he wanted to "attempt to find beauty where you might think there is none."

Miss Captivity Europe?

The prison director, Kestutis Slanciauskas, said the event had been a success.

"At first we were very much hesitant about it but then decided to allow it.

"Now I think it was the right decision," he said.

Mr Valinskas - surrounded by reporters and camera crews from as far away as South Korea - said the show format could be expanded.

"It is the first such contest in the world, but maybe not the last one. We have already received some proposals to think about a Miss Captivity Europe," he said.

See also:

24 Jul 02 | Country profiles
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