Colombia paramilitary detained in reporter's death

AP News
Posted: Dec 30, 2009 8:28 PM

Colombian prosecutors on Wednesday ordered the preventative detention of a paramilitary commander in the slaying of a journalist seven years ago in the violent eastern state of Arauca.

Gunmen killed Luis Eduardo Alfonso Parada, who worked for Radio Meridiano-70 and the leading newspaper El Tiempo, outside his office in 2003. Alfonso had reported on alleged corruption in Arauca and said he was receiving death threats.

Gustavo Reyes, head of the Prosecutors' Office unit investigating attacks on journalists, said Jose Ruben Pena Tobon acknowledged he was commander at the time of the right-wing paramilitary bloc that killed Alfonso.

Preventative detention is ordered in Colombia when sufficient evidence links a suspect to a crime.

Reyes said Pena had not yet told prosecutors the motive for the journalist's killing.

Alfonso had replaced reporter Efrain Varela at Meridiano-70 after Varela was killed by paramilitaries in 2002.

In neighboring Venezuela, authorities said they were preparing to deport a Colombian paramilitary leader who was recently captured.

Colombian prosecutor Deicy Jaramillo said the suspect, Oscar Ospino Pacheco, could have been responsible for more than 1,000 murders.

Venezuelan Justice Minister Tareck El Aissami announced Ospino's capture last week at a shopping center near Caracas.

Colombia is mired in a decades-long internal conflict involving leftist guerrillas, right-wing paramilitaries and a U.S.-backed military.