Two paramilitaries convicted of murdering Colombian journalist

Sixteen years in prison was the sentence ordered yesterday, February 22, for the two murderers of journalist Santiago Rodríguez Villalba, according to the Second Circuit Court of Sincelejo, department of Sucre, northern Colombia.

The colleague was killed on February 19, 1997 in Los Tejares neighborhood, in Sincelejo. Rodriguez worked as Press Chief at the Regional Autonomy Corporation of Sucre (CarSucre), and as a journalist for the radio program, “counterattack”, where he fustigated the corrupt of the coast region. The journalist had also been council and secretary of the administration of Sucre.

The convicted men, identified as Juan Carlos García Lidueña, alias “Deivis Enrique Rivera” and Enrique Salcedo Rivera, were part of an extreme right wing paramilitary group that hit the region, leaving an aftermath suffered by the reporters of this zone of the country.

The prosecutor of the National Unit on Human Rights and International Human Rights, in charge of the investigation, collected the evidence that incriminated the men who were responsible for the crime.

A proof that orientated the inquiry of the prosecution was the testimony of the journalist’s son. He explained he had spoken in a meeting with the hitmen before the crime was committed. Therefore, he was able to identify the criminals when the murder occurred at the family’s front door.

“While we mourn the death of our colleagues, we embrace these good news, which in a country like ours - where almost 150 journalists have been killed and just a few criminals have been convicted, two murderers are finally sent to jail”, said Eduardo Márquez, Center of Solidarity Director of the International Federation of Journalists.

“The organizations of journalists hope the will and courage shown by the prosecutor and judge are imitated by the rest of the members of the judicial branch, for the well being of our fragile democracy”.

Center of Solidarity