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Almar Fernández: Director of La Modelo de Bogotá murdered in the middle of a prison in Colombia.

Almar Fernández: Director of La Modelo de Bogotá murdered in the middle of a prison in Colombia.

image source, private file

title, In April 2024, Almar Fernandez took over the direction of La Modelo.

  • author, Draft
  • stock, BBC News World

The director of La Modelo prison, retired colonel Almar Fernandez, 57, was assassinated in Bogotá this Thursday afternoon while on his way home.

The news was confirmed by Colombian Justice Minister Nestor Osuna, who announced an operation to find those responsible for the killing and promised that security at the National Prison Institute (INPEC) would be strengthened.

Images of the attack show a dark-colored car with a windshield mark shot by people on a motorcycle.

Colonel Fernandez retired from the police force in 2017 after serving six weeks in La Modelo.His efforts to reform and control the prison came under threat, including constant searches of inmates, according to local newspapers.

President of Colombia, Gustavo Pedro condemned the murder and sent a message of solidarity to Fernandez’s family.

Pedro wrote in his X account that the colonel “was sworn in on April 4th, he executed orders to provide discipline and conduct random searches. Today he is brutally murdered.”

His government is expected to announce a contingency plan for the country’s prisons.

Daniel Gutiérrez, director of Inpec, said Fernández’s murder was the most serious incident and that the agency had received 550 threats in two years. “Inability to protect lives of correctional officers”.

A hard memory of dark times

Analysis by Jose Carlos Cueto, BBC News Mundo correspondent in Colombia

The circumstances surrounding the murder of Almar Fernández, the director of La Modelo prison in Bogotá, are a stark reminder of the dark ages for Bogotá residents.

A few kilometers from NQS Avenue and 80th Street, where the killing took place, the killers ended the life of Justice Minister Rodrigo Lara Bonilla, who led an outspoken war against drug trafficking and organized crime in Medellin led by Pablo Escobar, 40 years ago. Poster.

Like Bonilla and other officers who died during that tumultuous time, Fernandez faced death threats for his work fighting crime.

The murder scene was soon filled with police, ambulances, journalists and onlookers.

From the media and official channels, patience was requested from all drivers who had to pass police checkpoints in a time-trial operation to nab those involved.

As the hours pass, the Colombians’ initial shock gives way to anger.

Many are wondering how Fernandez could not have adequate security arrangements if he received death threats.

They also question the state of the country’s prisons, looking with dismay at other Latin American countries where they have become de facto hubs for criminal organizations.

There is also no shortage of criticism of Pedro’s administration, which promised security improvements and prison reforms during his ambitious election campaign.

There are many questions to be resolved, but one of the days we remember a reality that is hard to digest: there are still criminals in Colombia who dare to challenge the state.

Prison emergency

image source, Good pictures

title, La Modelo has a capacity of 2,900 inmates.

This is the fourth such emergency in the country’s history, which occurred in 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic.

With the move, authorities seek to regulate in-person visits to prisons, demand greater autonomy in executing budgets and reinforcements from the general force to guarantee the safety of prison centers and inmates.

According to the Inpec report, “among the precursors that led to this commitment, there was a 41% increase in extortion cases” and “a 100% increase in security incidents involving prison staff compared to the previous year,” according to the report. said.

La Modelo prison, which has a capacity to house 2,900 inmates, was in the news during the pandemic when strong riots broke out due to overcrowding, with 23 dead and 83 injured.

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