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Accused mastermind in singer's death arrested

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 9:59 PM EDT, Tue March 13, 2012
Singer and composer Facundo Cabral was killed when gunmen ambushed him in Guatemala City in July, 2011.
Singer and composer Facundo Cabral was killed when gunmen ambushed him in Guatemala City in July, 2011.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: A plane transporting the suspect to Guatemala turns back and returns to Colombia
  • NEW: Official: Costa Rican authorities want to assure he won't face the death penalty
  • Colombian authorities arrest the alleged mastermind of Facundo Cabral's slaying
  • Cabral was a revered Argentine folk singer

(CNN) -- Colombian authorities have captured a fugitive accused of being the mastermind behind the killing of an Argentine folk singer in Guatemala last year.

Alejandro Jimenez, alias Palidejo, was arrested as he tried to enter Colombia aboard a ship, Costa Rican Attorney General Jorge Chavarria told Radio Reloj.

"We are very pleased with the news, because it confirms that international cooperation delivers results," Chavarria said.

Singer and composer Facundo Cabral, dubbed the "messenger of peace" by his fans, was killed when gunmen ambushed him and Nicaraguan promoter Henry Farinas in Guatemala City in July 2011.

Cabral was a revered and beloved artist for generations of Latin Americans. Both Guatemala and Argentina proclaimed three days of national mourning after his death.

Jimenez, a Costa Rican citizen, faces extradition either to Costa Rica, where there are charges of drug trafficking and money laundering against him, or to Guatemala, where he is wanted for murder.

A plane taking Jimenez to Guatemala turned back and returned to Colombia on Tuesday night after Costa Rican authorities said they wanted to assure that he would not face the death penalty, a spokesman for Guatemala's interior ministry said.

He remained in Colombian police custody Tuesday night, CNN affiliate Noti7 reported.

Investigators believe Cabral was not the intended target, but happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The apparent target was the promoter, Farinas.

In an interview with CNN en EspaƱol in September 2009, Cabral said he had lived a "great life" and that he would die a "happy man."

The folk singer said he was grateful for the opportunity to travel around the world during his long and productive career, and emphasized that his concerts were about much more than his music.

"When people leave my concerts, they're better human beings than they were when they arrived, but not because of me... not because of me," Cabral said. "It's because the main character of my concerts is life and life is exciting."

Journalist Maria Renee Barillas contributed to this report.

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