Murder of the director of La Modelo triggers emergency measures to protect Inpec staff

Colonel Elmer Fernández, who took over as director of La Modelo on April 4, had requested protection after receiving death threats, but his request did not reach the UNP in time due to the slowness and bureaucracy of the process.

Authorities from the Police, Inpec and the Ministry of Justice discussed the hypotheses and preliminary conclusions about the murder of Fernández. Colprensa / VANGUARDIA

In response to the murder of retired colonel Elmer Fernández, director of the La Modelo prison in Bogotá, the Minister of Justice, Néstor Osuna, announced today the implementation of “urgent” procedures before the National Protection Unit -UNP to guarantee security of the staff of the National Prison and Penitentiary Institute -Inpec.

The murder of Fernández, which occurred on the afternoon of Thursday, May 16 in Bogotá, was executed by hitmen while the director was on his way home. This tragic event has highlighted the vulnerability of Inpec personnel to threats from criminal groups.

I wish (the process) were shorter

Quote end

Néstor Osuna, Minister of Justice.

“I wish (the process) were shorter,” Minister Osuna lamented, highlighting how “regulated and wasteful” the protocol to protect officials at risk is currently.

In an extraordinary security council, authorities from the Police, Inpec and the Ministry of Justice discussed the hypotheses and preliminary conclusions about the murder of Fernández.

According to reports, Inpec has registered 506 threats against its officials in the last two years, of which 263 are still pending and only 63 have obtained protection measures.

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Minister Osuna stressed that, from now on, the UNP will implement emergency procedures to more quickly evaluate and process requests for protection of the Inpec staff.

“To confront the harassment, the UNP will access emergency procedures for the entire Inpec,” said Osuna, underlining the need to accelerate procedures to safeguard officials.

The current regulations do not contemplate the allocation of armored cars for prison directors, an aspect that the Government plans to review in the future to improve the security of these officials.

In addition, Osuna and the director of Inpec, Colonel Gutiérrez, indicated that the Government is considering a possible reform to provide greater protection to prison directorates.

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The threat against Fernández had been made through a pamphlet signed by an inmate known as ‘Pedro Pluma’, who threatened to kill the director’s family if he proceeded with his transfer. Although this hypothesis has not been ruled out, authorities mentioned that there were no immediate plans to move “Pedro Pluma” from the yard or prison.

“Sometimes leaflets arrive that attribute threats to people or groups other than the perpetrators,” explained Colonel Gutiérrez, suggesting that other hypotheses are also being investigated.

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The prison community and authorities remain on high alert as new security measures are implemented to protect those on the front lines of the fight against organized crime within Colombian prisons.

With information from Colpresa.

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