Colombia Says FARC Leaders Were Behind Archbishop's Murder

Attorney General’s Office Release Results of Probe

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BOGOTA, Colombia, DEC. 18, 2002 ( The attorney general’s office is pointing to top leaders of the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia as the masterminds of the murder of Archbishop Isaías Duarte Cancino last March.

The order was given following a meeting of five FARC commanders, the office said. This evidence was provided by one of the commander’s guards, the Colombian newspaper El Tiempo reported Sunday.

During the guerrillas’ meeting, «Mincho» — head of FARC’s Front 13, one of the fiercest of the guerrilla columns — notified his companions that «the priest must be silenced because he is talking too much.»

The attorney general’s office believes that the evidence collected to date warrants the start of the formal prosecution of top FARC leaders for the crime.

According to the secret witness, Mincho also told commanders «Alejandro,» «The Devil,» «Alexander» and «Diomedes» that «the order came from [FARC’s] secretariat.»

The witness said he had been a member of FARC since 1997, belonged to the security group of commander «Alexander,» and was in charge of recruiting youths to form militias.

The attorney general’s office said the witness’s testimony has been verified by investigators.

Archbishop Juan Francisco Sarasti of Cali expressed his satisfaction over the progress made in the investigation of the murder of his predecessor.

«I am pleased that such a painful episode for society will not go unpunished, but I lament that it proves once again that the guerrillas are the authors of that crime, who, as all others, are condemned by the Catholic Church because they attempt against the most sacred right: that of human life,» Archbishop Sarasti said.

Archbishop Duarte was killed March 16 as he left the Church of the Good Shepherd in Cali after officiating at a mass wedding ceremony.

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