World / Crime & Legal

Colombia arrests suspected kidnapper of Ecuadoran press team later found slain

AFP-JIJI

Colombian authorities announced on Wednesday the arrest of the suspected kidnapper of an Ecuadoran press team later murdered by dissident FARC rebels.

Gustavo Angulo, who goes by the name Cherry, was arrested on Tuesday following an operation in La Guayacana, on the border with Ecuador, defense minister Luis Carlos Villegas said in a press conference.

Reporter Javier Ortega, 32, photographer Paul Rivas, 45, and their driver Efrain Segarra 60, who worked for Ecuador’s influential El Comercio newspaper, were abducted on March 26 while covering a story on violence along the border.

Their bodies were found on June 22.

The kidnapping prompted Colombia and Ecuador to sends troops to the border area to track down the perpetrators, but the following month a couple were taken from the same area before their bodies were found two weeks ago.

Angulo “was the one who allegedly intercepted the truck” the press team was traveling in, Villegas added.

They were then handed over to the Oliver Sinisterra Front led by ex-FARC guerrilla Walther Arizala, who goes by the alias Gaucho and has rejected the peace deal signed by his former comrades to end a half century armed conflict with the government.

The militants had demanded the release of Arizala allies captured in Ecuador in exchange for the liberation of the press team.

The thick jungle border area has been wracked by drug-related violence ever since FARC transformed itself into a political party following the landmark December 2016 peace accord.

A week ago, three policemen were murdered in La Guayacana by suspected Arizala allies.