The recent murder of a hired gunman marks the third suspicious incident involving a key witness in the trial of ex-governor Fransisco “Kiko” Gomez.
Hurtado Salamanca was ambushed and shot three times in the northern city of Barranquilla over the weekend, after naming ex-governor Fransisco “Kiko” Gomez in the murder of a local mayor, according to reports by El Tiempo. Salamanca was one of three witnesses for the prosecution against Gomez to have either been killed or have gone missing in recent months.
The disgraced governor of La Guajira was arrested in 2013 on charges of working with paramilitaries, and for his suspected role in three murders, including that of a local mayor.
Another witness, Utria Salazar, was murdered in Barranquilla on October 22nd. Both Salamanca and Salazar were gunmen in the drive-by assassination of the mayor, and both named Gomez in the murder.
The star witness in the trail, Rafael Arroyo Genes, was set to testify in the case of another murder linked to Gomez, but went missing two months ago. There is no information as to his whereabouts.
Colombia’s ‘wild west’
In 2013, the National Protection Unit discovered a plot to kill three researchers who had uncovered the parapolitics scandal leading to Gomez’ arrest. The three subsequently fled the country in fear for their lives.
Then-political analyst Claudia Lopez, and journalists Leon Vallencia, Gonzalo Guillen, and Ariel Avila submitted evidence in 2011 showing that Kiko Gomez was connected to crime boss Marcos Figueroa Garcia, alias “Marquitos Figueroa,” one of Colombia’s most wanted criminals.
In a 2013 letter to the president the researchers asked that the government purge La Guajira of the criminal networks which have permeated all local public offices, including the local police.
“The shameful events that occurred during the arrest of the former governor of the Guajira against the courageous CTI team gives the prosecution evidence, again, of strong ties between the La Guajira police and gang members, as we have already reported two years ago.”
“Kiko” was replaced as governor in 2014 by his friend and political ally Jose Ballesteros after an atypical election. Ballesteros is son of another former governor of La Guajira, who was Kiko’s predecessor and “political godfather,” according to reports by La Silla Vacia.