Colombia arrests Costa Rican suspect in Argentine singer’s death

March 13, 2012

BOGOTA, Colombia – Police in Colombia on Tuesday announced the arrest of a man described as the prime suspect in the death of Argentine folk singer Facundo Cabral, fatally shot last year in Guatemala.

The suspect, identified as Costa Rica citizen Alejandro Jiménez, 38, was extradited to Guatemala, where he is scheduled to be put on trial for murder.

Colombia Federal Police Chief Oscar Naranjo told reporters that Jiménez, also known as “El Palidejo,” or “Paleface,” is a leading suspect in a murder plot that included four alleged accomplices. The accomplices have been arrested.

“We are checking with the Foreign Ministry as quickly as possible,” Naranjo told reporters. “Considering that he was entering [Colombia] with false documents, it is very likely that he will be expelled from the country immediately.”

Jiménez was captured by police in northwestern Colombia at Puerto Punta Albite, where he arrived Saturday morning from Panama on a boat with two Colombians.

Naranjo said Jiménez is suspected of being the “author, prime suspect or mastermind” in the murder of Cabral.

The suspect, a wealthy businessman, also is accused of being a supplier and money launderer for a Mexican drug cartel, Naranjo said. He is being held by police in Bogota pending the extradition proceedings.

Cabral, 74, was killed by gunmen July 9 while on his way to the main international airport in Guatemala.

Guatemalan police said Cabral appears to have been an unintended victim of a murder attempt against businessman Henry Farinas, who had refused to sell nightclubs to Jiménez. Cabral, who Farinas had hired as a performer, was riding in the same car as the businessman when the assassins opened fire.

Farinas was injured but survived and is now a witness in the case.

Argentina held three days of national mourning after Cabral’s death. Fans turned up in droves to pay final respects as the singer’s coffin was displayed in the theater district of downtown Buenos Aires.

A global nomad who claimed to have visited 150 countries, Cabral’s music was largely about peace, love and everyday pleasures and pain.

His songs include the 1970s hit “I’m Not From Here Nor There.” They are performed frequently by other Spanish-language singers. He was declared to be a “World Peace Messenger” in 1996 by UNESCO.

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