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Last Updated: Friday, 14 March 2008, 23:36 GMT
Colombia to pay ex-rebel reward
Ivan Rios (2 November 1999)
Rios was a member of the Farc's seven-man secretariat
The Colombian government will pay $2.5m to a Farc rebel who killed his boss last week, Defence Minister Juan Manuel Santos has said.

Pedro Pablo Montoya, known as Rojas, killed Ivan Rios, a member of the group's ruling body, cut off his hand as proof and then turned himself in.

The government has made paying rewards to informants a key part of its fight against the left-wing rebels.

But critics say the policy amounts to government approval for murder.

Mr Santos said the payment was made to Montoya and three others for the intelligence they handed over.

"We decided to recognise the payment of the reward for the three principal sources, and also alias Rojas, for the information they provided," he said.

The defence minister said there had been opposition from some within the government to rewarding a self-confessed murderer.

But he added that the payment system was helping the Colombian government in its fight against the rebels and should be honoured without exception.

The possibility of a government reward for Montoya first emerged earlier this week.

Bloody history

Montoya, described by the BBC's Jeremy McDermott in Colombia as a guerrilla with a long and bloody history in the Farc rebel army, shot his boss Rios with a single bullet to the head, and then killed Rios's girlfriend.

He then cut off Rios's right hand to take to the security forces to prove he had killed the rebel leader, a member of Farc's seven-man secretariat.

Montoya has said his reward will encourage other rebels to kill their commanders and desert.

President Alvaro Uribe, backed by Washington, has made the military defeat of the Farc a key aim of his government. He has dealt a series of blows to the guerrillas, killing leaders and undermining key rebel units through desertions.

Rios's death came just a week after Farc commander Raul Reyes was killed by Colombian troops in a raid inside Ecuador.

The violation of Ecuador's territory sparked the worst diplomatic crisis in the region for years, which saw Ecuador and Venezuela break off diplomatic ties with Bogota and mass troops at their borders with Colombia.

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