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Colombia Fires Officials Over Escobar's Escape

July 25, 1992|From Associated Press

BOGOTA, Colombia — As the Colombian government sought Friday to explain how one of the world's most wanted drug traffickers could vanish from a heavily guarded prison, President Cesar Gaviria fired military officers and jail officials.

The drug cartel leader, Pablo Escobar, and nine underlings could not have fled Wednesday from a prison 1 1/2 miles high in the Andes outside Medellin without help from the military and jail guards.

Radio Caracol of Bogota reported Friday that an informant said Escobar got away in an army truck. It said another informant said Thursday that Escobar paid $1.4 million in bribes to escape.

Escobar said Thursday in a tape-recorded message that he would surrender under U.N. supervision. The president's office said attorneys for Escobar issued the following conditions Friday for his surrender:

* That Escobar be returned to the same jail just outside his hometown of Envigado, 12 miles south of Medellin.

* That the 26 guards fired right after the escape be reinstated.

* That family members be guaranteed visiting privileges.

* That the national police have nothing to do with his surrender or incarceration.

The president's office responded in a communique that the government would accept only unconditional surrender, guaranteeing Escobar's safety and a fair trial.

The acting chief of the air force, Gen. Hernando Monsalve, was fired. For unexplained reasons he was hours late getting reinforcements to the jail after Escobar and other cartel members took the three officials hostage.

The jail's warden, Jose Rodriguez, and assistant warden Jorge Rodriguez, also were fired.

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