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article imageFugitive Colombian ex-senator Merlano captured in Venezuela

By AFP     Jan 28, 2020 in World

Fugitive Colombian former senator Aida Merlano, who was jailed for vote buying, has been captured in Venezuela almost four months after she escaped during a trip to the dentist, Venezuelan police said.

A FAES police special forces unit arrested Merlano in Maracaibo, capital of the northwest border state of Zulia, FAES director Miguel Dominguez posted on Instagram on Monday.

The former senator "entered Venezuelan territory illegally in the company of an undocumented Colombian citizen," he added.

The message was accompanied by a photo of the pair from the back with wigs, documents and several cell phones seen on a table.

Merlano was sentenced to 15 years in prison in September 2019 for buying votes during the 2018 general election that saw her elected senator for the Conservative Party.

During a visit to a medical center in Bogota to see a dentist on October 1, she managed to slip away from her escorts, climb out a window, and slide down a rope, landing on the sidewalk in front of surprised passersby before calmly escaping on the back of a waiting motorcycle.

A video of her daring escape shot by a nearby security camera went viral on social media.

Justice Minister Margarita Cabello fired the head of the women's prison in Bogota where Merlano had been held and who had authorized the medical visit.

Colombia is no stranger to spectacular prison escapes.

The most famous was in 1992, when drug kingpin Pablo Escobar and 12 of his men absconded from La Catedral, a prison that he himself helped build.

However less than 18 months later Escobar was shot dead by police in his home city of Medellin.

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