Five Colombian investigators have been dispatched to the island of Baru “where the murder was committed” to carry out the investigations with the support of Paraguay and the United States, the chief announced to the press at the beginning of the afternoon. of the Colombian police, General Jorge Luis Vargas.
He did not specify the date or the exact circumstances of the assassination, committed while the prosecutor was spending his honeymoon on this tourist island.
Mr. Pecci, 45, married a Colombian journalist, Claudia Aguilera, on April 30 in the city of Cartagena, posting photos of her wedding on her Twitter account.
“Yes he is dead”, confirmed his wife, in a short interview with a Colombian radio.
The murder took place on the private beach of a local luxury hotel, the Decameron Hotel, among tourists and in front of the transparent blue waters of the Caribbean Sea.
“Two men arrived (from the sea) on a boat, they approached and opened fire, before fleeing,” she explained. “A guard wanted to intervene, they also shot him.”
Prosecutor Pecci had “received no threats”, she simply added.
The hotel complex where the couple was staying in a press release gave other details, stating that the “assassins arrived by jet-ski on the beach in front of the hotel”.
In the last photo published before the tragedy on the young woman’s Instagram account, the couple was embracing on a beach, with a pair of baby booties in the foreground, suggesting that the newlyweds were expecting a child.
– “Typical of the mafia” –
According to the Ambassador of Paraguay in Colombia, Sophia Lopez, “the transfer” of the body of the prosecutor Pecci to his country “will not take place immediately”, because of the necessities of the investigation.
The prosecutor was on a “private” trip and had no work meeting scheduled during his stay, the diplomat said, speaking on Colombian media.
Late Tuesday afternoon, Colombian police released a photo of one of the alleged murderers, in black Bermuda shorts and his head covered with a beige Panama hat.
Colombian Police Director General Jorge Luis Vargas told a press conference that the US drug agency DEA, Colombian and Paraguayan authorities were working together to “get as much information as possible “about this crime.
Police have announced a $488,000 reward for information leading to the killers’ capture.
On Twitter, Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benitez condemned “the cowardly assassination of prosecutor Marcelo Pecci in Colombia” which “mourns the whole Paraguayan nation”.
“We condemn this tragic act in the strongest terms and redouble our commitment to the fight against organized crime,” assured the president.
“The way they (the assassins) acted, the way they executed, is typical of the mafia. I see no other explanation (…)”, estimated the president of the Paraguayan Association of public prosecutors, Augusto Salas.
Speaking on Colombian radio, Paraguay’s Attorney General Sandra Quiñonez recalled that her murdered colleague had obtained “important convictions” in these “eleven years of fighting drug trafficking and transnational crime”.
“He just wanted to enjoy his honeymoon, in privacy, and that’s why he had no security” around him. “He was a great friend (…) he told me that his wife was expecting a baby,” confirmed Ms. Quiñonez.
A “police commission” from Paraguay will travel to Colombia to participate in the Colombian investigation, said Colombian General Jorge Luis Vargas.
Colombian President Ivan Duque also condemned the assassination via his Twitter account and assured that he was in communication with his counterpart in Paraguay to ensure “all the cooperation (necessary) to find those responsible”.
Mr. Pecci was a prosecutor specializing in organized crime, drug trafficking, money laundering and terrorist financing.
He was known for his involvement in the investigation that landed footballer Ronaldinho behind bars between March and August 2020 for entering Paraguay with false documents.
Paraguay and Colombia have strengthened their cooperation against international organized crime in recent years. Despite decades of fighting cartels and drug traffickers, Colombia remains the main producer and exporter of cocaine in the world.