Colombian sentenced to 28 years for journalist’s murder

January 23rd, 2009 - 5:41 pm ICT by IANS  

Bogota, Jan 23 (IANS) The former mayor of the central Colombian city of Barrancabermeja was sentenced to 28 years in prison for the slaying of journalist Jose Emeterio Rivas in 2003, EFE reported.Julio Cesar Ardila Torres must also pay a fine of more than $500,000 for orchestrating the murder, Judge Nelly Vallejo Aranda said in a verdict handed down Wednesday.

Two former municipal employees were each sentenced to 26 years and eight months in prison for their role in the plot to kill Rivas. He was slain at a country estate on the road linking Barrancabermeja and Bucaramanga.

Rivas, 44, was the host of a radio programme that exposed links between the Barrancabermeja city government and the right-wing AUC militias, which was ostensibly demobilised in 2006 as part of a peace process with the government of President Alvaro Uribe.

Ardila, whose part in the murder was revealed by a repentant militiaman, surrendered to authorities last April after several years as a fugitive.

The slain radio host reported receiving death threats in 1999 and was assigned a police bodyguard under a government programme to protect journalists at risk. Rivas requested additional security shortly before his death.

Two former militiamen are accused of carrying out the killing.

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