Colombia’s attorney general on Tuesday charged a man from a prominent family with the kidnapping and murder of a 7-year-old girl from a poor neighborhood, in a crime that has outraged residents and illuminated the city’s deep socio-economic divides.
Rafael Uribe, a 38-year-old architect from a well-off area of Bogotá, was charged at the hospital where he has been since Sunday night with allegedly pulling Yuliana Andrea Samboni into his SUV in broad daylight and bringing her to a luxury apartment owned by his family, sexually abusing, torturing and strangling her.
Authorities say that he and at least one other person then tried to cover up the crime scene.
Even in conflict-weary Colombia, the crime against the young indigenous girl, whose family came from a violence-torn region to the country’s capital, has provoked outrage and a demand for justice from all corners of the city.
“The full force of the law should fall on him,” said the girl’s uncle, Edgar Samboni, referring to Mr. Uribe. “People like him, with money, come to a humble neighborhood like ours, thinking they can get away with something like this.”
Yuliana’s neighborhood, a collection of tin-roofed dwellings populated mostly by handymen and housekeepers who work in elegant homes nearby, was still reeling on Tuesday. Outside the girl’s cinder block house was a picture of her and a sign referring to Mr. Uribe that read: “Builder of houses? No, destroyer of lives.”
On Monday, the Uribe family issued a statement published in Colombia’s major newspapers expressing their regret over Yuliana’s death.
“Faced with this tragedy that engulfed two good families, we are conscious that Rafael needs to assume the drastic consequences of this action,” it said.
Police said Yuliana was playing in front of her house around 9 a.m. on Sunday. A video from a neighbor’s camera shows a gray truck, which police later said was found to belong to family members of Mr. Uribe, taking her away.
Police said they tracked the vehicle and found the girl’s body Sunday night in a modern apartment building in an upscale area not far from Yuliana’s home. At that point, officials said, Mr. Uribe had been taken to the hospital by his brother, where officials say he was being treated for a cocaine overdose. On Tuesday evening an angry crowd surrounded the hospital as authorities prepared to take Mr. Uribe to police headquarters.
Nestor Humberto Martinez, Colombia’s attorney general, vowed to hold the killer, and anyone else involved, responsible for what he called “a horrendous crime.”
Yolanda Cortes, 42 years old, the owner of a hardware store near where Yuliana lived, said she was sickened by what happened but heartened by the dozens of people who attended demonstrations around the city Monday night bearing candles, flowers and placards demanding justice for the girl.