Colombians allowed to stay in NZ after killings

BEN HEATHER
Last updated 05:00 12/02/2013

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A Colombian teenager escaping a drug gang that killed his brother has gained refugee status in New Zealand.

The 15-year-old and his mother have been fighting to stay in New Zealand for more than a year, claiming their lives were in danger in Colombia.

The pair escaped to New Zealand on student visas in early 2011 after the boy's brother was killed for refusing to join a gang in their home city of Medellin.

Medellin was once home to drug lord Pablo Escobar who, during the height of his power in the late 1980s, controlled an estimated 80 per cent of the global cocaine trade.

During this time, Medellin was labelled the most dangerous city in the world as Escobar fought with other drug cartels for control.

Although Escobar is long gone, Medellin is still plagued by crime and violence, usually linked to the drug trade.

The family's trouble started soon after the boy's older brother refused to join the gang. The brother was 19, and was planning to join the police.

Four months later, he was stabbed while washing his motorcycle. He survived.

After another two months, a family friend was murdered when he also refused gang members. Soon after the death, a gang member again approached the brother, pushing him to join.

A month later, the brother was murdered "execution style" while walking home from a party.

After the death, gang members tried to recruit the younger boy, approaching him while he was walking to school and asking what he thought of his brother's death.

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- The Dominion Post

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