Colombia Captures Paramilitary Priest

Colombian authorities said a Catholic priest from a town outside Medellín led paramilitary groups that committed rapes and massacres and persecuted evangelical ministers and believers. The priest, the Rev. Oscar Ortiz Henao, was arrested in mid-April. Prosecutors said Father Ortiz created a paramilitary group in the town of San Antonio de Prado. Colombia’s right-wing paramilitaries are notorious for human rights violations and “social cleansing” operations, which kill prostitutes, thieves, drug addicts and other “undesirables.” Father Ortiz was a popular figure in San Antonio del Prado. After his arrest, residents marched in protest. Many said the priest had helped cleanse the neighborhood of criminals and had created a school for poor children. A judge confined Father Ortiz to a residence for priests in Medellín while legal processes continue. Father Ortiz’s lawyer told media that the priest had contacts with illegal groups only during peace negotiations.

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