JournalismPakistan.com June 26, 2015
BOGOTA: A Colombian court sentenced the mastermind of a journalist’s murder to 36 years in prison Wednesday in a landmark conviction that followed years of lobbying for justice by local journalists, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said.
Politician Francisco Ferney Tapasco González was convicted for ordering the 2002 killing of Orlando Sierra Hernández, a muckraking columnist and deputy editor of the daily La Patria in the central city of Manizales, media reported. Sierra, 42, was shot in the head three times in front of his daughter.
The ruling was a victory for journalists who have been battling for years to end chronic impunity in Colombia. The Bogotá-based Foundation for Press Freedom (FLIP) said it was the first time that everyone involved in a journalist’s murder had been jailed.
“After 13 years we finally have justice for Orlando Sierra whose case highlighted all that was rotten in the Colombian legal system,” said Carlos Lauría, CPJ’s senior program coordinator for the Americas, from New York. “This shows what journalists can achieve when they band together: impunity does not have to be the norm and the powerful can be held accountable.”
The Manizales court decision came after years of delays, the killings of witnesses, and controversial judicial rulings. The court also convicted Fabio López Escobar and Jorge Hernando López Escobar in the Sierra case and sentenced them to nearly 29 years in prison. Tapasco, who has a lengthy criminal record, was also convicted in 2010 for working with paramilitary death squads, according to news reports.
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A study conducted by JournalismPakistan.com and Communications Research Strategies on the economic situation of slain journalists' families and journalists displaced due to security threats.