In security footage from inside the dentist’s office, Merlano can be seen sitting in the patient chair as an employee leaves the room. She quickly gathers a bright red rope from under a nearby desk and flings it out the window.
A second security video, recorded from what appears to be a street-level parking garage, shows the red rope dangling from above. Eventually, Merlano drops to the ground. Passersby initially come to her aid, and she then can be seen hopping on the back of a motorbike; the driver hands her a helmet, and they both speed away.
Authorities confirmed Merlano’s escape on Twitter on Tuesday and held a news conference to answer questions about how the former politician got away.
Colombian officials ordered an investigation into Merlano’s escape, prompting swift fallout. Justice Minister Margarita Cabello fired the women’s prison head who authorized Merlano’s dentist trip, reported Al Jazeera. Cabello also asked for the resignation of William Ruiz, who oversees Colombia’s prison system. Eight additional prison staffers were suspended, according to Al Jazeera.
“There is an investigation underway for the mistake that may have occurred regarding the oversight of the mission, of taking her to the doctor’s office and bringing her back to the women’s prison,” Ruiz said at a news conference.
The BBC reported that Merlano arrived at the Medical Center of La Sabana at 11:35 a.m. Tuesday, escorted by two female guards. A guard waited outside the room for three hours while Merlano saw the dentist. When the dentist left the room, the guard entered, only to find Merlano already gone, the BBC reported.
In a statement, the medical center said it was notified at 3 p.m. of Merlano’s escape. The former politician has not been since the escape.
Merlano, a former House representative in Colombia, won her Senate race last year but will not serve in the seat because of her criminal conviction. She was found guilty of buying people’s votes and being in illegal possession of firearms, reported the local newspaper El Tiempo.