Special prosecutor Caterina Heyck Puyana announced at a press conference on February 18, 2016 that the Colombian Attorney General’s office was investigating the disappearance of at least 100 people between 1999 and 2001 whose bodies were allegedly dismembered and tossed into the sewers beneath the notorious La Modelo prison in Bogota. “The victims were inmates, visitors and people who had nothing to do with the prison,” said Heyck Puyana. “Their remains were thrown into the drain pipes of the sewer system.”
Colombian prisons are among the most overcrowded and violent in Latin America. Much of the violence is linked to the practice of housing leftist guerrillas alongside their right-wing paramilitary enemies in close quarters. Although the investigation centers on the La Modelo facility, Heyck Puyana said the grisly practice is also suspected to have occurred at prisons in other cities such as Popayan, Bucaramanga and Barranquilla. Officials admitted they may never be able to determine the identities of all the victims.
The disappearances at La Modelo were first exposed by journalist Jineth Bedoya, who was investigating killings, missing persons, weapons trafficking and corruption at the prison in May 2000, when she was kidnapped and raped. “I’m grateful for the actions being taken today, but it should’ve happened years ago,” she said.
Sources: www.cnn.com, www.businessinsider.com
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