A Colombian lawyer has temporarily abandoned his plan to unite the country's Christian attorneys in a national legal society after a sicario, or killer for hire, apparently attempted to kill him.

David Pérez Palacio, a Presbyterian lawyer from the Caribbean coastal city of Barranquilla in northern Colombia, was visiting his brother in their hometown of Cereté, about 600 miles northwest of Bogota, when approached by a lone gunman. The July 27 attack was thwarted when cries from Palacio's sister-in-law alerted the gunman to witnesses.

The murder attempt, an example of the lawlessness that threatens numerous Christian leaders in Colombia, so frightened the evangelical lawyer that he is considering fleeing the country.

In March, David Palacio's brother, Oved Pérez Palacio, also an evangelical lawyer, took on the case of Cereté's city workers, who had allegedly been unjustly fired. City authorities refused to give the workers their paychecks and had not paid some of them in a year, David said. Oved had gotten a court order to freeze the city's bank accounts two months ago.

The mayor was angered by Oved's work to freeze the city's accounts and demanded that Oved call off the court order.

After Oved refused to stop the order, the mayor said in a closed-door session with a paramilitary leader that the community's lawyers needed to be "taught a lesson," according to a Cereté city councilman. Cereté is in Colombia's department (province) of Córdoba, a zone rife with right-wing paramilitary activity.

"The mayor said that he had to bring a lawyer to justice so other lawyers in the city would know they had better respect him," David said his brother learned from the councilman. On July 25, the paramilitary leader declared Oved a "military ...

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