Photo: Arrest in Latin America
Colombian police on Monday captured the suspected shooter in the 2004 slaying of Carlos Castaño, founder of the now-defunct AUC federation of rightist militias.
The arrest of Manuel Salvador Ospina Cifuentes was made in Medellin, capital of the northwestern province of Antioquia, and he is now scheduled to be transported to Bogota, the head of the national police’s Criminal Investigation division told reporters.
Testimony provided by other former paramilitary leaders points to Ospina Cifuentes as the mastermind behind Castaño’s murder, Gen. Jorge Enrique Rodriguez Peralta said.
The suspect also participated in the massacre of 42 people in the town of Pueblo Bello, Antioquia.
The Attorney General’s Office said that Castaño was kidnapped and murdered on April 16, 2004, at a ranch in Antioquia, in an attack staged by between 30 and 40 rival paramilitaries.
At the time, Castaño had been separated from the central command of the AUC that he had shared with his brother Vicente and with Salvatore Mancuso, the latter one of 13 AUC commanders extradited to the United States in 2008 to face drug and money-laundering charges.
Ospina Cifuentes was convicted in absentia and sentenced to 30 years in prison for the 1997 slaughter in Pueblo Bello, Gen. Rodriguez said.
“He was being followed because he is the author of murders, displacements and other crimes,” Rodriguez added.
The AUC, which ostensibly demobilized in 2006 as part of a peace process with the government of then-President Alvaro Uribe, killed more than 250,000 people over a little more than two decades, according to one of the thousands of U.S. State Department cables disseminated by WikiLeaks.