Colombian Soccer Star Seeks Answers on Disappeared Father

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — The newly appointed chief of Colombia’s army says he is willing to meet with soccer star Juan Fernando Quintero to discuss his father’s disappearance more than 20 years ago.

Gen. Eduardo Zapateiro said during a military ceremony on Monday he “shares the pain” of Quintero’s family and added that he is willing to meet with the River Plate and Colombian national team midfielder to discuss his father’s final days.

Colombia’s Juan Fernando Quintero (10) celebrates after scoring from the penalty spot against the United States during an Olympic qualifying soccer match at the Roberto Melendez Stadium in Barranquilla, Colombia, on March 25, 2016. The newly appointed chief of Colombia’s army says he is willing to meet with the soccer star to discuss his father’s disappearance more than 20 years earlier. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara, File)

Jaime Quintero was last seen in 1995 at an army base in the city of Carepa, which was then commanded by Zapateiro. According to Quintero’s relatives, Jaime was carrying out his compulsory military service, and disappeared after falling out with Zapateiro, who wanted to transfer him to another base due to his unruly behavior.

Following Zapateiro’s appointment as army chief last week, Quintero’s relatives gave interviews on local media in which they complained about the general’s promotion, saying he still had not answered questions on Jaime’s disappearance. Juan Fernando Quintero, who was 2 years old when his father went missing, took to Twitter on Monday morning, asking for a meeting with the general and saying that he had the right to know the truth about his father.

Zapateiro denies involvement in the disappearance of Jaime Quintero, and in a statement published yesterday the military cited investigations conducted by local courts, which blamed rebel groups for the crime.

According to Colombia’s National Center for Historical Memory, more than 80,000 people were forcibly disappeared in Colombia between 1958 and 2015, as the military and rebel groups fought for control of rural areas.

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MANUEL RUEDA Associated Press

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