Monday, September 5, 2011

Here's one for regular readers Peter Jacobsen and Colleen Sweeney

Murder of the Priest of Marmato is a mystery

The priest of the Caldas municipality (of Colombia) was murdered last Thursday after being shot twice.

Although at first authorities in Caldas said that the motive for the murder of the priest of Marmato (Caldas), José Reinel Restrepo Idárraga was theft, this Sunday the commander of the Risaralda police force, Camilo Cabana Fonseca, said that they were studying other hypotheses.

Restrepo, 36, was killed Thursday while travelling between Guática and Belén de Umbría (Risaralda). He was shot twice in the back and was found with no documents, which is why his identification was delayed, nor with two bags he was carrying that day.

The priest had spent the past two years in Marmato where he had opposed the moving of the town, a possibility that has been considered if the mining company Gran Colombia Gold mines its open pit project.

Cabana Fonseca said that the investigation team is headed by a special group made up of members from Sajín de Risaralda and from Caldas, with the help of a fiscal delegated to the case. He also said that the process to shed light on the crime was moving forward.

The commander also indicated that in the sector where the murder of the priest took place there was no guerrilla presence, nor bands of organized criminals and that criminal activity was sporadic.

Authorities have offered a reward of 20 million pesos (U$11,200) for information leading to the perpetrators of the crime. The funeral of the priest took place yesterday in Viterbo (Caldas), his home town.

To add to the unusual circumstances of this crime, it's also strange that since this murder there have been dozens of reports in Spanish media, but mention of the story in English is restricted to just two short reports from Catholic Church publications that don't even mention the opposition Father Restrepo had to the Marmato project of Gran Colombia Gold ( Any reason why that might be, Mr. Jacobsen? We are glad to report that the company run by Serafino Iacono has issued a statement in Spanish language condemning the attack. However, IKN laments to report that we should not expect any English language equivalent of said press release.

UPDATE: This Colombia TV news report on the murder gives more information on the event, explains the priest's connection to the opposition to and also contains a copy of the Gran Colombia Gold ( Spanish language press release.