PASTO, Colombia – The director of Colombia’s Forensics Institute confirmed on Wednesday that two bodies found in a grave in the southwestern border province of Nariño correspond to an Ecuadorian couple who were kidnapped in April.
“With the support of the (Attorney General’s Office’s) Technical Investigation Team, we have fully confirmed the identity of ... Katty Velasco Pinargote and Oscar Villacis Gomez. Their identities were confirmed by fingerprinting,” Carlos Valdes told reporters in Pasto, Nariño’s capital.
The bodies of Velasco and Villacis were found in a jungle area of the municipality of Tumaco (Nariño), one of the most conflict-ridden areas of Colombia due to the presence of different illegal armed groups and the proliferation of coca plantations.
Valdes said the autopsies showed the Ecuadorians were murdered about two months ago, having suffered “multiple wounds” in the neck and chest caused by sharp-blade weapons.
Authorities attribute the double homicide to a former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla, Walter Patricio Arizala Vernaza, known as “Guacho,” who refused to demobilize under a November 2016 peace agreement with the government.
Guacho, the leader of a FARC renegade faction known as the Oliver Sinisterra Front, also was responsible a month earlier for the kidnap-murder of three employees of Ecuadorian newspaper El Comercio.
The bodies of those press workers were repatriated from Colombia last week.
Ecuador’s government said on April 17 that the couple had been kidnapped in the northern Ecuadorian border province of Esmeraldas and also published a smartphone video that showed Velasco and Villacis tied up and guarded by men armed with rifles.