The captured Colombian guerrilla leader believed to have knowledge of missionaries kidnapped in 1993 says he knows nothing about the crime, Colombian authorities and United States FBI officials have told New Tribes Mission (NTM).
Colombian police arrested Jose Milciades Urrego Medina, known as "Commander Rigoberto," in Bogota on November 30 for aggravated homicide, extortionate kidnapping and aggravated terrorism.
NTM doesn't believe the guerrilla's story but expected the response, said mission spokesman Scott Ross. This week the ministry plans to send two men to Bogota, where the guerrilla leader is in jail. Mission officials have asked Colombian authorities and the FBI for a chance to question him. So far, the mission has not been allowed to do so.
"We're completely confident Rigoberto was involved with the kidnapping of our three," Ross said. "I think he knows everything there is to know about it. His refusal to cooperate isn't a total surprise to us."
Urrego Medina was second-in-command of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia's (FARC) 57th Front when it kidnapped Mark Rich, Dave Mankins and Rick Tenenoff more than eight years ago from the missionaries' base near Panama's border. The men have not been seen since.
Guerrillas demanded a multi-million-dollar ransom for the missionaries' release. Talks broke off with the 57th Front a year after the January 1993 kidnapping. FARC's highest leaders have said that those who kidnapped themen belonged to a renegade group not acting with FARC's blessing and that FARC has no knowledge of what happened to them.
The ministry isn't giving up, however. "We're going to continue working toencourage him to at least tell us the fate of our three missionaries," Ross said.
Ross acknowledged ...1
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