The sole survivor of the Colombian amateur soccer team kidnapped and murdered in Venezuela fears for his life and those of his family, according the public defender in charge of the case.
Tachira survivor Manuel Junior Cortes “expressed with urgency and anguish the need to adopt security measures to ensure his right to personal security and life,” public defender Volmar Perez told WRadio Monday.
Cortes was the sole survivor of a team of soccer players kidnapped on October 11 in the Venezuelan state of Tachira. Their bodies were found two weeks later and showed evidence of gunshot wounds. 19-year-old survivor Manuel Cortes was found alive with bullet wounds and rushed to a Caracas hospital.
The Venezuelan armed forces handed Cortes over to Colombian security agency DAS on Saturday at the border in Cucuta in eastern Colombia. He is in state witness protection but gave a brief statement to the press.
“12 to 15 men armed with rifles and pistols arrived and began to threaten everyone … they made us get into two trucks,” Cortes said.
The survivor related how they traveled in the trucks for two hours before they reached a camp where they were tied up in pairs, with chains around their necks. After 14 days they were told they were told they would be released.
“We cried with happiness … but we didn’t know that this release was to face a firing squad,” said Cortes.
“We kneeled on the ground and they began hitting us … we felt the blast of six or seven shots, one of which hit me … two minutes later I opened my eyes and I was alive. I checked the other but they were dead,”
Cortes was helped by locals and spent 42 days in a hospital in Caracas.
Family members of the deceased members of the soccer team said Cortes is their one hope of finding out what happened to their relatives.
“He is the only hope we have to get out of this cloud of doubt that we have lived in since the day they disappeared,” Ariel Vega, a relative of two of the deceased told El Tiempo.
Perez told local media that Cortes had had an operation on his face and still had problems with his left arm.