Colombian priests hired hit men to kill themselves
Two priests in Colombia hired hit men to kill themselves after discovering they had contracted aids, a court has heard.
Reverend Rafael Reatiga asked his parishioners to pray for him and gave the choirmaster a list of songs for his funeral shortly before he was found shot to death together with another Roman Catholic priest, a Colombian prosecutor said on Tuesday.
Authorities initially suspected robbery when Reatiga’s body was found along with that of Rev Richard Piffano, 37, in a car in southern Bogota on Jan. 27, 2011.
But on Tuesday prosecutor Ana Patricia Larrota said investigators had determined that it was suicide by hit men in the year-old case: the two priests having hired gunmen to kill themselves after Rev Reatiga discovered he had aids.
The priests gave members of a criminal gang the equivalent of $8,500, said the chief investigator of the prosecutor’s office, Maritza Gonzalez, as two of the four alleged assassins appeared before a judge for processing.
She said the two priests had originally planned to throw themselves off a cliff into a canyon north of Bogota but apparently lacked the nerve.
In addition to aids, Rev Reatiga had syphilis and witness testimony indicated he was a regular visitor to places frequented by homosexuals in central Bogota, Ms Larrota told the judge.
Gildardo Alberto Penate and Isidro Castiblanco, the two suspected assassins, were charged with aggravated homicide, said Ms Larrota.
Each faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted.
Three weeks before their deaths, Rev Reatiga had transferred his possessions to his mother. Rev Piffano withdrew about $3,700 from his bank account on the day of his death, Gonzalez said.
Investigators said they located the alleged killers based on telephone numbers the priests had called from their cell phones in the days before their deaths. Authorities found the stolen cell phone of one of the priests on a gang member months after the killing.
Some of the numbers ended up belonging to a criminal band involved in counterfeiting, fraud and arms trafficking, they said. It allegedly supplied the killers, including two who authorities say remain at large.
The Telegraph original story here.