Two gay Roman Catholic priests hired hitmen to kill themselves after one of them discovered he had Aids. (Daily Mail By DANIEL MILLER)
Rafael Reatiga, 35, and Richard Piffano, 37, who had been close friends since training, were discovered shot dead in a car in Southern Bogota, Colombia, in January last year.
Authorities initially suspected robbery but this week prosecutor Ana Patricia Larrota said investigators had determined that it was a case of suicide by hitmen.
The priests gave members of a criminal gang the equivalent of $8,500, said chief investigator Maritza Gonzalez, as two of the four alleged assassins appeared before a judge for processing.
Gonzalez said the two priests had originally planned to throw themselves off a cliff into a canyon north of Bogota but apparently lacked the nerve.
She told the court Reatiga asked his parishioners to pray for him and gave the choirmaster a list of songs for his funeral shortly before the bodies were discovered.
In addition to Aids, Reatiga had syphilis and witness testimony indicated he was a regular visitor to places frequented by gays in central Bogota.
Three weeks before their deaths, Reatiga had transferred his possessions to his mother.
Piffano withdrew about $3,700 from his bank account on the day of his death, Gonzalez said.
Investigators said they located the alleged killers based on telephone numbers the priests had called from their cell phones in the days before their deaths.
Authorities found the stolen cell phone of one of the priests on a gang member months after the killing.
Some of the numbers ended up belonging to a criminal band involved in counterfeiting, fraud and arms trafficking, they said.
It allegedly supplied the killers, including two who authorities say remain at large.