Three Officials Killed in Colombia; Port City Chosen for Bush Summit
BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) _ Suspected drug cartel assassins killed a judge, a prosecutor and a bank official, part of a rise in bloodshed as traffickers seek to stop the extraditions of narcotics figures to the United States.
The three slain late Tuesday night were the latest victims in Colombia’s 3- month-old war between drug smugglers and the government, police said.
The traffickers have said they would continue their campaign of bombings and assassinations unless the voters are allowed to decide whether to continue the policy of extraditing drug traffickers to the United States.
The government of President Virgilio Barco has said it will not let up on its crackdown on Colombia’s powerful cocaine cartels.
Meanwhile, the Colombian city of Cartagena was chosen as the site of a drug summit in February that is expected to be attended by President Bush.
Bernard Aronson, assistant U.S. secretary of state for inter-American affairs, told a news conference in Bogota on Tuesday that the U.S. government had accepted the Caribbean port city, about 680 miles north of Bogota, as an acceptable site.
Presidents Barco, Bush, Jaime Paz Zamora of Bolivia and Alan Garcia of Peru are to attend the summit. Colombia, Peru and Bolivia all receive U.S. aid that is tied to the progress of their anti-drug efforts.
Ever since Barco declared an anti-narcotics war after a leading presidential candidate was assassinated on Aug. 18, Colombia has undergone a wave of killings, including a bombing last week that claimed 63 lives.
Officials also blame drug barons for the bombing of a Colombian jetliner on a domestic flight Nov. 27 that killed all 107 people aboard.
Gabriel Jaime Velez, 38, a prosecutor who handled cases against suspected drug traffickers, was one of the three people killed Tuesday, police said Tuesday. He was killed in the town of Envigado, six miles from Medellin, the home of the country’s most powerful cocaine cartel.
Edgar Henao, 55, an engineer with the Inter-American Development Bank, was killed in Venecia, 37 miles southeast of Medellin, police said.
Police said both men were killed by suspected assassins working for drug traffickers.
Judge Sofia de Roldaan also was killed by suspected cartel assassins in the port of Buenaventura on Colombia’s Pacific coast, 500 miles south of Medellin, police said.
The authorities could not immediately provide details on how the three officials were killed.
Earlier this month, a proposed referendum on whether Colombians accused of crimes in other countries should be extradited was attached to legislation that would reform the constitution.
The House of Representatives recently approved the legislation with the extradition rider by a vote of 109-to-4, bringing on accusations from the press that the congressmen had been bribed and bullied by drug traffickers.
On Tuesday, the legislation was in a Senate commitee, which was reluctant to introduce it to the full Senate. If the legislation is not approved by the Senate by Friday, when the Congress adjourns, the bill would die.
The 20 committee members were not discussing the bill, and no one wanted to suggest it be voted on, the country’s two leading dailies, El Tiempo and El Espectador, reported.
Publicly, the committee was acting as if the bill did not exist.