Colombian ex-police chief charged in killing

Colombian prosecutors issued an arrest warrant Thursday for a 73-year-old former domestic security chief who they say participated in the 1989 assassination of presidential candidate Luis Carlos Galan.

Retired Gen. Miguel Maza Marquez has been charged with aggravated homicide for allegedly allying himself with the drug traffickers whose hired guns killed Galan, said German Gomez, spokesman for Colombia's chief prosecutor.

The DAS domestic security agency that Maza Marquez led provides bodyguards for politicians, human rights activists and others. Prosecutors say the general intentionally lightened Galan's bodyguard contingent to enable the Aug. 18, 1989 assassination.

Galan's 1989 presidential campaign was a crusade against Pablo Escobar and other cocaine lords who terrorized Colombia, killing hundreds of judges, journalists and police in a bid to avoid extradition.

A lawyer for Maza Marquez told The Associated Press on Thursday his client is innocent but would turn himself in shortly. The general had been jailed in the case in August 2009 but was freed in April due to procedural errors.

Attorney Juan Carlos Cardenas called the prosecution's case flawed because it is based on witnesses — jailed paramilitary warlord Ivan Roberto Duque and convicted mass murderer Alonso de Jesus Baquero — who were not present when the assassination was planned.

The chief prosecutor, Guillermo Mendoza, told reporters that authorities had incriminating evidence against Maza Marquez but he would not elaborate.

Maza Marquez led the DAS from 1985-1991 and was at the time considered a hero in Colombia for his efforts fighting Escobar's Medellin Cartel. He himself survived the Dec. 6, 1989 bombing of DAS headquarters by the cartel in which more than 50 people were killed.

Police killed Escobar in 1993 after a massive manhunt.