Colombian senator, two others killed

Monday, March 4, 2002

ZIPACON, Colombia -- A Colombian senator and two companions who were trying to negotiate the release of rebel hostages were shot in the head and killed, apparently by the rebels, police said Sunday.

The bodies of Sen. Martha Catalina Daniels, her driver, Carlos Lozano, and Ana Maria Medina were found Saturday in a deep ravine outside Zipacon, 35 miles north of Bogota, town mayor Bernardo Gonzalez said.

Medina was the wife of a local politician who is being held hostage, apparently by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. The three were trying to win the freedom of Medina's husband and a former mayor who were kidnapped in May, according to a statement released by Colombia's intelligence police, the Department of Administrative Security. "It's assumed that it was the FARC," said police Col. Alvaro Sandoval.

Gonzalez said all three were shot in the head and had bruises on their bodies.

"I think that these people were killed somewhere else and brought here on Friday night," Gonzalez said. They were identified Sunday morning.

The group had left the senator's home in Bogota Friday without taking along her bodyguards, Gonzalez said.

Daniels was the seventh member of Congress to be killed in four years, the president of the Colombian Congress, Carlos Garcia Orjuela, said. Another five lawmakers and a presidential candidate are being held hostage by suspected FARC rebels.

Daniels had said that the FARC had threatened her because of her husband's involvement in a corruption scandal.

Her husband, Hernando Rodriguez, is in jail, accused of mishandling a pension fund that paid workers thousands of dollars inappropriately.

Daniels was also well known for her defense of former president Ernesto Samper, accused in 1995 of receiving campaign funds from drug traffickers. Congress absolved Samper of any wrongdoing.

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