A Colombian judge has sentenced a former mayor to 28 years in prison
for ordering the April 2003 killing of a journalist who had repeatedly
denounced the politician as corrupt.
Julio Cesar Ardila was among three men convicted in the murder of
Jose Emeterio Rivas of the local radio station “Calor Estereo,” who was
shot to death in the steamy refinery city of Barrancabermeja on
Colombia’s main river, the Magdalena.
The sentence, handed down
by judge Nelly Vallejo in the regional capital of Bucaramanga on Jan.
13, only came to light Thursday after the InterAmerican Press
Association’s president, Enrique Santos, publicized it.
co-publisher of Bogota‘s El Tiempo newspaper, noted that it is rare in
Colombia for the mastermind of a journalist’s killing to be brought to
In the past 15 years, 57 journalists have been killed in
Colombia while exercising their profession, according to the IAPA, with
more than 70 percent of those killings going unpunished.
Ardila, Barrancabermeja’s mayor from 2000-2003, was arrested last year.
had accused him not just of corruption but also of ties to far-right
millitias of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, death squads
that killed scores in the city as they rid it of alleged guerrilla
The key witness was a demobilized paramilitary
gunman, Rayner Enrique Brokate, who said he was present when Ardila and
the two other convicted men agreed to pay militia leaders about $68,000
to kill the reporter.
The judge’s sentence, which was obtained by The Associated Press, did not indicate whether the money was paid.
A day before he was killed, Rivas called Ardila “a plunderer” in a television appearance, according to the sentence. (AP)