Venezuela captures wanted Colombian fugitive

AP News
Posted: Nov 21, 2009 6:19 PM

Venezuelan authorities have captured a former Colombian official wanted for collaborating with outlawed right-wing paramilitary fighters.

Magally Moreno, 39, is wanted by Colombian authorities on charges of aggravated homicide and Interpol had called for her arrest, Justice Minister Tareck El Aissami said Saturday.

He said police captured Moreno in the western city of Maracaibo on Thursday. She held an important role for the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, and also had links to high-ranking officials including a former attorney general, he said.

Moreno has "extremely important information," and authorities are investigating whether she also committed crimes within Venezuela, El Aissami said.

He suggested she may have information about links between paramilitary groups and Colombian officials _ a subject President Hugo Chavez has been emphasizing amid tensions with Colombia's U.S.-allied government.

Moreno used to work as an investigator for Colombian prosecutors. She was detained in 2003 and accused of aiding militias along with her boss, Ana Maria Florez.

The two were convicted on conspiracy charges related to various crimes after Moreno acknowledged to prosecutors working for the now-jailed paramilitary boss Jorge Ivan Laverde, who has said he participated in the killings of more than 2,000 people.

Colombian prosecutor Giovanni Alvarez said Moreno was sentenced to more than five years in prison, and she later fled when prison authorities granted her temporary parole.

The Venezuelan justice minister said Florez and Moreno "were the ones in charge of the relationship" between paramilitary fighters and Colombian security forces.

Colombian Defense Minister Gabriel Silva reacted saying: "We're very pleased that for the first time in many years Venezuela captures Colombian criminals."

Tensions between Chavez and Colombian President Alvaro Uribe have grown over an agreement granting U.S. troops expanded access to Colombian military bases.

Hundreds of Chavez supporters marched through Caracas on Saturday, protesting the military deal and calling for peace. Some held signs calling Uribe a paramilitary member.