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Drug-Fighting Journalist Slain in Colombia

March 22, 1997| From Times Wire Services

BOGOTA, Colombia — Narcotics traffickers were behind the killing of a Cali editorial writer who had railed against Colombia's chronic drug corruption in his columns, his newspaper colleagues said Friday.

Gerardo Bedoya, 55, was shot six times Thursday evening as he left a condominium complex in southern Cali, where the country's leading drug cartel was founded.

Gen. Harold Bedoya, head of the armed forces and Bedoya's cousin, also blamed the slaying on "narco-terrorists."

For the last five years, Gerardo Bedoya had worked for El Pais, the city's biggest newspaper. At the daily, he had praised U.S. pressure on Colombia to ensure that drug bosses were punished severely.

He had recently written stinging criticisms of the drug corruption that has plagued the government of President Ernesto Samper, who was cleared last year by Congress of allegations that he won office with money from the Cali cartel.

"We think the drug trafficking mafia was behind the murder of this honest man . . . who openly campaigned against the traffickers," Bedoya's colleagues said in a statement.

"These opinions . . . led to his death in a country without a government, where the only law is the law of the violent," they said. The statement bore 54 signatures.

Authorities said they still had no leads on the killer. Police offered a $50,000 reward for the capture of the gunman and an accomplice.

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