By Andrew Bushe
DUBLIN — Following the disappearance of an 18-year-old Donegal man in Colombia last month and fears he has been murdered, Foreign Minister Brian Cowen has asked the Irish Ambassador in Mexico to use "all possible means" to investigate the case.
Cowen said it was reported that Tristan Garcia, 18, and a Colombian friend, Javier Nova, were kidnapped in the Tolima area in early July and his family believe he may have been murdered.
Tristan’s family were founder members of the Atlantic Community on Donegal’s Inishfree Island.
Cowen has also contacted the Colombian Foreign Minister Dr. Guillermo Fernandez de Soto and asked the Washington Ambassador to contact the U.S. State Department about a massacre of villagers in the La Union community, where Irish Franciscan Fr. Brendan Forde works as a priest.
The Minister expressed concern about the overall deteriorating human rights and humanitarian situation in Colombia and in particular the "number of inhuman acts of violence and atrocities" again civilians.
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La Union and two surrounding villages had declared themselves peace communities or neutrals in the country’s 40-year-long civil war.
Fr. Forde, from Clontarf, Dublin, said a right-wing paramilitary group associated with the army had arrived in La Union, shot men aged between 25 and 40 and told villagers they had to leave within 20 days.
He said that the paramilitaries had also shot five people in February. The people had nowhere to go and opted to stay. The priest had decided to remain with them.