Accused Hijacker Captured in Colombian Swamp

United Press International

Police on Tuesday captured a hijacker who, armed with a toy grenade, had forced a Colombian jetliner on a 12-hour odyssey spanning three countries before escaping into a swamp, authorities said.

“I just want to go somewhere and die in peace,” the man identified as Gonzalo Carreno Nieto, 43, told police as he gave up.

The hijacker claimed to be dying of AIDS when he hijacked the Avianca Boeing 727 airliner on a domestic flight Monday. He freed the 131 passengers and then forced the pilot to fly to Panama, the island of Aruba and finally back to Colombia.

After landing here Monday night, the hijacker ordered the pilot to taxi to the end of the runway, where he jumped from the rear of the jet and fled into a mangrove swamp, police said.


Police equipped with spotlights searched the swamp between the airport runway and the Caribbean Sea at Cartagena, and at dawn found Carreno Nieto, huddling near sand dunes.

They said Carreno Nieto had a toy grenade--not a revolver and real grenades, as officials had said earlier.

Authorities said Carreno Nieto was convicted of murdering his brother-in-law 20 years ago, claiming the victim was a Colombian CIA agent who threatened him. In 1983, he was arrested again and accused of trying to extort money from a Bogota supermarket chain by threatening to poison food.