Paraguayan anti-mafia prosecutor killed on Colombia honeymoon

Marcelo Pecci
Marcelo Pecci

A high-profile Paraguayan prosecutor who fought against organised crime in his home country has been shot dead during his honeymoon in Colombia.

Marcelo Pecci was on a beach on the idyllic tourist island of Baru when he was killed by two gunmen. Hours before the shooting, Mr Pecci’s wife had announced on Instagram that she was pregnant.

Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benitez described the shooting as a “cowardly murder”.

His wife, journalist Claudia Aguilera, said that they were approached by two men on a private beach before her husband was shot. She said he had not received any threats.

“Two men attacked Marcelo. They came in a small boat, or on a jet ski, the truth is I did not see well,” Ms Aguilera told the El Tiempo newspaper. One of the assailants got out and “without a word he shot Marcelo twice, one [bullet] hit him in the face and another in the back,” she said.

The Decameron Hotel, where the couple was staying, said in a statement that “assassins arrived on the beach… and attacked and murdered one of our guests”.

The Decameron Hotel
The Decameron Hotel said that “assassins arrived on the beach”

Paraguayan prosecutor Augusto Salas, a colleague of Mr Pecci, said that the attack appeared “typical of the [drug] mafia, so that is what I will think until the contrary is proven”, according to news agency AFP.

The head of the Colombian police and investigators from Paraguay have travelled to the scene of the killing. Officials from the United States will also aid the investigation, Colombia’s national police chief General Jorge Luis Vargas said.

Mr Pecci specialised in organised crime, drug-trafficking, money-laundering and terror financing. In 2020 he worked on a case against former Brazilian footballer Ronaldinho, who was arrested trying to enter Paraguay with a fake Paraguayan passport.

“The cowardly assassination of the prosecutor Marcelo Pecci in Colombia saddens all of the Paraguayan nation,” Paraguayan President Marcelo Abdo wrote on Twitter. “We condemn in the most energetic terms this tragic occurrence and redouble our commitment in the fight against organised crime.”

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