State of siege in Colombia

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

BOGOTA (AP) - President Cesar Gaviria declared a state of emergency yesterday to block the release of 17 suspected Medellin cocaine cartel members held without trial since 1991.

A five-member constitutional court must decide whether a state of emergency really exists. The decision is expected by Wednesday. Mr Gaviria's order will be in force until the court issues its opinion.

Colombia has been under various states of emergency for about 37 of the past 40 years, but yesterday's decree was the first that was not in response to a direct attack by leftist guerrillas or drug traffickers.

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