Friday, July 06, 2007

Colombians accused of assassination plot freed at home

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) - Five Colombians deported from Costa Rica on accusations they plotted to kill members of that Central American nation's government, were set free on their return home, Colombia's secret police said.

The five were released after Colombian authorities found them to have no outstanding arrest warrants or criminal records, Oscar Galvis, spokesman for the secret police which also handles immigration issues, said Monday.

Costa Rica's minister for security, Fernando Berrocal, told local media that the five were part of a group planning "assassination attempts against the lives of high-ranking members of the government" of President Oscar Arias.

In an interview with Costa Rica's La Nacion, Berrocal said Costa Rica respected the decision by Colombian authorities, but said the investigation would continue by the two countries' police forces into the alleged plot.

Berrocal did not reveal who were the targets of the assassination plots, but the newspaper La Nacion reported that the targets included Berrocal and Rodrigo Arias, the brother of President Oscar Arias who serves as his representative in the Cabinet.

Berrocal said that the plot, allegedly organized by the Norte del Valle cartel, one of Colombia's largest drugs organization, could be a revenge for intercepting cartel drug shipments.
Last year, the Costa Rica seized around 40 tons of cocaine shipped out of Colombia.

After spending nearly two weeks in Costa Rica, the Colombians were captured on Thursday and Friday and deported Saturday.

Costa Rica did not offer any evidence against the five men. Colombian authorities gave no more details on the suspects.

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