Posted by Neda Vanovac on Oct 8, 2009 Leave a comment

Arauca prison director suspected of assisting ELN leader’s escape

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Colombia news - prison

The director of Arauca prison has been charged with assisting ELN commander ‘Pablito’ of escaping prison, and a large-scale government operation is underway.

Gustavo Anibal ‘Pablito’ Giraldo, who was being held at Arauca prison, escaped Wednesday, allegedly aided by several prison guards as well as the prison’s director, reports newspaper El Espectador.

Minister of the Interior and of Justice, Fabio Valencia, has ordered the director of the nation’s penitentiary organization, Inpec, 31 prison security officials are to be transferred in order to forward the investigation.

Valencia said that the suspects may not be removed from office because they are unionized, reported La F.M. radio.

Earlier today, President Álvaro Uribe called Valencia and his counterpart in the Defense Ministry, Gabriel Silva, to “completely clarify what happened there.”

Pablito was arrested near Bogota in January 2008 and is considered one of the key opponents to peace talks between the ELN Central Command and the Colombian Government. He faces charges of murder, rebellion, and terrorism. He is the alleged murderer of eight Venezuelan solidiers and a Catholic bishop, and the bomber of the Caño Limon – Coveñas oil pipeline, which he allegedly bombed 200 times.

He escaped prison when a number of ELN members arrived on motorcyles and opened fire on guards watching the prisoner. He is thought to have fled to Venezuela, as the vehicles used by his accomplices were found in a hamlet across the river from the border. Venezuelan authorities have been called upon to assist in his recapture.

A US$900,000 reward is being offered for information as to his whereabouts.