Colombian judge orders prison for 2 suspects in the kidnapping of parents of Liverpool soccer player

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BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — Two suspects in the kidnapping of the parents of Liverpool soccer player Luis Díaz were ordered sent to prison by a judge, Colombia’s Prosecutor’s Office said Wednesday, accusing one of the men of being the link to a person close to the family who provided information about the victims.

Andrés Alcires Bolívar and Marlon Rafael Brito are also accused of maintaining contacts with members of the National Liberation Army, or ELN, in the planning and execution of the Oct. 28 abductions in Barrancas, a town in La Guajira in Colombia’s northeast of Colombia.

Díaz’s parents – Luis Manuel Díaz Jiménez and Cilenis Marulanda — were kidnapped by a unit of the ELN at a gas station by armed men on motorcycles.

Marulanda was rescued by police a few hours later, but Díaz’s father was held captive for 12 days by the ELN. The father was released on Nov. 9 near the Serranía del Perijá, bordering Venezuela, where facilitators from the Catholic Church and the United Nations had flown by helicopter.

Prosecutors said in a statement that Alcires Bolivar was a merchant in La Guajira who had been contacted by a member of the ELN to help him kidnap Díaz’s parents. He allegedly went to Barrancas to convince “a person who was close to the Díaz family” to participate in the kidnapping and to learn about the victims’ routines.

Rafael Brito allegedly helped in the logistics of the kidnapping, including planning the deception under which Díaz Jiménez and Marulanda were abducted at the gas station. Prosecutors say the soccer player’s parents went there to fulfill a promise of support for the candidacy of a relative who was running for the Barrancas Council.

The two men have denied involvement in the kidnapping and other charges.

Díaz plays from the English club Liverpool and Colombia’s national soccer team.

After the kidnapping, special forces were deployed to search for Díaz’s father in a mountain range that straddles Colombia and Venezuela. Police also offered a $48,000 reward for information that led to him.

The ELN acknowledged the kidnapping, saying it was a mistake and that its top leadership had ordered the father’s release.

Diaz’s parents were taken amid peace negotiations between Colombia’s government and the guerrilla group.

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