URGENT Chief Prosecutor Kidnapped In Colombia; Abducted Mayoral Candidate Found
BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) _ A band of gunmen today abducted and apparently wounded Carlos Mauro Hoyos, the government’s chief prosecutor, and killed his two bodyguards. Police searching for Hoyos found a Bogota mayoral candidate who was kidnapped a week ago.
Medillin Mayor William Jaramillo Gomez said the mayoral candidate, Andres Pastrana, was found unharmed. He was discovered in a farmhouse near Retiro, about 10 miles outside Medellin, the mayor told the radio network Caracol.
Hoyos, 45, investigates wrongdoing in the government and judiciary and recently ordered an inquiry into last month’s release from prison of reputed cocaine baron Jorge Luis Ochoa Vasquez, who the United States has been trying to extradite. The government blamed the attack on Hoyos on drug traffickers.
Hoyos was abducted at 7:20 a.m. while nearing the Medellin airport for a flight to the capital about 200 miles to the southeast.
The young assailants, in three jeeps and a car, sprayed Hoyos’ Mercedes Benz with submachine gun fire. The bodies of Hoyos’ driver and other bodyguard were found inside.
″I saw three youths, between the ages of 18 and 21, who fired indiscriminate ly at the car,″ said a witness, Bernarda Gil.
A policeman who was able to see the ″frightful fusillade″ said Hoyos appeared to have been hit in the throat by bullets, the mayor of the nearby town of Rionegro, Juan Diego Murillo, told Caracol radio.
The mayor quoted the policeman as saying ″the kidnappers pulled out the prosecutor, whose head was bowed and bloodied.″
The airport is 19 miles north of Medellin, where Hoyos had been investigating Ochoa’s release.
The Medellin mayor said police found one of Hoyos’ shoes and his bloodstained jacket in the Mercedes. Police and troops were deployed to search for the prosecutor and his abductors.
The bullet-riddled Mercedes was halted against a curb. The bodyguards were together hit by at least 19 bullets, officials said. At least 50 bullet casings were on the road.
In Bogota, the president of the Council of State, Carmelo Martinez, told Caracol radio the kidnappers ″can only be the drug traffickers the prosecutor has strongly condemned.″
Hoyos recently ordered the investigation of two judges and five government officials for suspected involvement in Ochoa’s release. As a result, the judges and four of the officials were fired. The fifth, Justice Minister Enrique Low Murta, remains under investigation.
Ochoa was released from a Bogota prison Dec. 31 after serving less than half of a 20-month sentence for illegally importing fighting bulls.
The most powerful drug cartel in Colombia is based in Medellin, and U.S. authorities say Ochoa is its second-in-command.
The prosecutor’s brother, Henry, said four hours after the kidnapping that his family had not heard from the kidnappers. Carlos Hoyos was elected to a four-year term as prosecubductors of Andres Pastrana, the Conservative Party mayoral candidate in Bogota, on Sunday broke off talks with the former president and rejected mediation by Cardinal Alfonse Lopez Trujillo.
Andres Pastrana, 34, a lawyer and journalist, was kidnapped Jan. 18.
In a communique given to the newspapers and radio in Medellin, the group said Garcia Marquez was one of 12 people it demanded for negotiations. The Colombian-born writer lives in Mexico City. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982.
It was not immediately possible to contact him for reaction.
The group, which calls itself the ″The Extraditable Ones,″ rejected the Roman Catholic cardinal because ″we don’t have any knowledge that he was opposed to the handover of Colombians to the United States.″
The drug traffickers are urging the government to halt any plans to extradite alleged cartel members to the United States, where they face criminal charges. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration estimates the cartel controls 80 percent of the cocaine entering the United States.
The communique said that they decided to put a stop to direct negotiations with the former president and added, ″we only will accept one or many″ candidates, among them writers, journalists, members of the Congress and lawyers, most of them opposed to the extradition treaty.
The Pastrana family said Sunday night in a statement that they accepted the journalist Enrique Santos Calderon as one of the mediators and promised to consider the names of others proposed by the captors.
Relations between the United States and Colombia have been strained since Ochoa’s release.
Colombia has pledged to extradite accused cartel members to the United States.