Colombian police announced on Saturday the arrest of four people suspected of having participated in the kidnapping of the father of Liverpool footballer Louis Diaz, released Thursday after remaining 12 days in the hands of National Liberation Army guerrillas ( ELN). “We have arrested four people allegedly responsible for the kidnapping of Luis Manuel Diaz. Thanks to coordinated work with the public prosecutor and the United Kingdom authorities,” she announced on the social network X (formerly Twitter).
According to the authorities, three of those arrested belong to a “group of criminals” called “Los Primos” (The Cousins). They did not specify the link between “Los Primos” and the National Liberation Army (ELN) which has been negotiating for a year with the government as part of a peace process. Two men, nicknamed “Marlon” and “El negro”, were arrested at dawn in Maica. Another, "Aranca", was arrested on October 31 in the neighboring town of Barrancas, located near the border with Venezuela, where Luis Diaz had been kidnapped on October 28 with his wife, who was later released. of a few hours, according to the attorney general's office.
“They carried out surveillance and control operations to know the movements of the victims and determine how to trap them to kidnap them,” Attorney General Francisco Barbosa explained on Saturday. Police discovered weapons hidden in a piece of furniture at the home of one of them, according to images released by the prosecutor's office. No information has been released on the identity of the fourth man arrested.
Aged 56, Luis Manuel Diaz was released Thursday morning in a mountainous area in the north of the country, about 90 km from Barrancas. He had been kidnapped with his wife by individuals traveling on motorcycles while the couple was traveling in a van. The amateur football coach returned home exhausted from the long walk he had to make through the mountains. This kidnapping jeopardized the peace process begun almost a year ago between the ELN and the government, as well as the six-month bilateral ceasefire in force since August 3.
Before the release of Mr. Diaz, President Gustavo Petro had estimated that this kidnapping had broken the “trust” between the parties. The military commander of the last recognized guerrilla in Colombia, Antonio Garcia, had himself admitted an “error”. In six decades of civil conflict, Colombia has recorded some 38,000 kidnappings, mainly by armed groups who finance their operations with ransom money and drug trafficking, Colombia being the leading producer of cocaine in the world. Colombian international Luis Diaz joined Liverpool in January 2022 from Portuguese club Porto, in a transfer worth 60 million euros. This is the first time that a Colombian native has reached the elite of world football.