Deaths Elsewhere

Deaths Elsewhere

September 15, 2005

Julio Cesar Turbay, 89, who as president of Colombia negotiated the release of dozens of diplomats held hostage by leftist rebels for 61 days in 1980, died of heart failure Tuesday in Bogota, Interior and Justice Minister Sabas Pretelet said.

Mr. Turbay led his nation from 1978 to 1982. In a terrorist attack on Feb. 27, 1980, fighters from the M-19 guerrilla group took 50 officials including 16 ambassadors and the papal delegate hostage at the Dominican ambassador's home.

The rebels, dressed as soccer players, kicked a ball over the wall in front of the residence. Pretending to retrieve it, they killed a surprised guard and forced their way into the building. A two-hour shootout left one guerrilla dead and two soldiers wounded.

Sixty-one days later, the rebels were allowed to fly to Cuba with a $1 million ransom in a deal negotiated by Mr. Turbay. Authorities had turned down demands that they release jailed rebels and pay $50 million.

In 1991, Mr. Turbay's journalist daughter, Diana, was abducted by gunmen working for drug kingpin Pablo Escobar. She was killed during a botched rescue attempt.

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