Colombia's defense minister confirmed Friday that dental tests have almost confirmed that the three bodies recovered from a forest region in Southern Colombia belong to members of a media team of Ecuadorian newspaper El Comercio, who were reportedly kidnapped and killed by a guerilla group.
"The police and Legal Medicine report that dental charts (dental records) give 99 percent certainty about the identities of the bodies of Ecuadorian journalists found. However, respective DNA tests will also be carried out," Luis Carlos Villegas said on Twitter.
Journalist Javier Ortega, photographer Paul Rivas and driver Efrain Segarra, from the Quito-based daily El Comercio, were kidnapped on Mar. 26 in a rural area of Mataje parish in Esmeraldas province on the Colombian border, where they had gone to cover the growing insecurity in the region.
A dissident group belonging to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, who calls themselves 'Oliver Sinisterra Front', led by Walter Patricio Ariza - alias Guacho - had carried out the kidnapping.
The rebels had killed the three just days later, according to Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno.
Family members of the three victims, including Mariana Reyes, mother of Javier Ortega, and Yadira Aguagallo, wife of Paul Rivas, had reached the headquarters of the National Institute of Legal Medicine in Cali in Colombia earlier on Friday to identify the bodies.