BOGOTA – The Colombian Attorney General’s Office has re-arrested former paramilitary Alejandro Cardenas Orozco, alias “JJ,” one of the suspected rapists of journalist Jineth Bedoya 15 years ago, and whose release was ordered by a prosecutor earlier this week in a decision harshly criticized inside the country and internationally, local media said Saturday.
The ex-paramilitary was re-arrested Friday night at a house in the densely populated Kennedy sector of southwest Bogota by agents of the Technical Investigation Corps, or CTI, of the A.G.’s office, and was immediately taken to the unit’s lockup, according to El Tiempo, the newspaper where Bedoya works.
“CTI of the Attorney General’s Office has just recaptured alias ‘JJ,’ involved in kidnapping of @jbedoyalima. A new chance to see justice done,” said one of her newspaper colleagues on Twitter, which was retweeted by Bedoya on her personal account.
The decision to re-arrest alias “JJ” was taken last Thursday by Colombia’s Attorney General Eduardo Montealegre, after which a technical committee set about analyzing the controversial decision of the prosecutor who ordered Cardenas’s release.
“All kinds of irregularities were observed by that committee,” for which reason the A.G.’s office “reactivated the preventive detention and arrest warrant” against Cardenas, an ex-paramilitary of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, or AUC, the CTI said at the time.
Bedoya was kidnapped on May 25, 2000, at the entrance to Bogota’s La Modelo prison, where she had arrived to conduct an interview with a senior paramilitary member.
She was subsequently physically and psychologically tortured and raped by her captors, in what was ruled a crime against humanity.
The prosecution closed the case against alias “JJ” on grounds of a lack of evidence, and ordered his release, allowing the ex-paramilitary to go free from La Picota prison in Bogota.
A number of social organizations slammed the prosecutor’s decision because they not only allowed impunity in the case, but also “revictimized” Bedoya.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said the ex-paramilitary’s release was “ridiculous,” while the Foundation for Press Freedom (FLIP) said the prosecutor’s decision “sends the message that attacks against the press are permissible and will go unpunished.”
The Inter-American Press Association (IAPA) regretted Friday that, with Cardenas being freed, Bedoya will have to relive the horror, the violence and the humiliation that she suffered during her abduction.
For its part, Reporters without Borders (RWB) slammed the “confusion” of Colombian justice in its handling of the case.
“The state is sending contradictory messages to Bedoya, to the victims of human rights violations in general, and to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR),” the RWB said in a communique issued in Paris.