An ex-colonel accused of plotting the 1999 murder of one of Colombia’s most beloved comedians, Jaime Garzon, has been captured, Colombian media reported on Thursday.
Jorge Eliecer Plazas Acevedo, the ex-colonel in question, was captured in San Martin, in the central state of Meta early Thursday morning after a one year search. Although Garzon’s assassination has been attributed to paramilitaries, certain sectors of the military have been implicated in his killing, including Plazas, according to national newspaper El Tiempo.
Plazas was found wearing what many farmers would wear in the area near where he was captured, making him indistinguishable from the general population, according to national news magazine Semana.
According to testimonies from convicted drug lord “Don Berna,” Plazas played a central role in the planning and execution of the operation that would end up in the assassination of Garzon.
Plazas escaped from a military compound in the middle of a 2003 scandal where he was jailed for the kidnapping and murder of an Israeli businessman, according to Semana.
Since Plazas was found as a primary suspect in the Garzon case, the Colombian government sent out an Interpol request for his capture, according to El Tiempo.
The life and murder of Jaime Garzon
Garzon, 39 at the time of his death, was shot five times while traveling to work at a Bogota radio station on August 13, 1999, and died instantly. Two assassins pulled up next to his vehicle on a motorcycle as he was stopped at a traffic light and fired at near-point blank range.
There have been various speculations around the motive for the slaying due to Garzon’s political activities, and it has long been suspected that Colombia’s security forces were involved. His death was met with outpourings of grief including an estimated 85,000 in attendance at his funeral along with condemnations from across the political spectrum.
Garzon, a comedian, lawyer, politician, and journalist was beloved across Colombia for his scathing satire of Colombian politics, and his actions to promote peace and a better culture in Colombia. He acted as an intermediary between guerrillas and the government to negotiate the release of hostages.
He had an early political career as the mayor of Sumapaz in 1988, an underdeveloped rural district of Bogota when former Colombian President Andres Pastrana (1998-2002) was mayor of Bogota.
His most famous comedic character, a “shoeblack,” was a toothless shoe-shiner named Heriberto de la Calle who during skits would satirize well-known Colombians while polishing their shoes.