Concern also expressed at parole for Argentine newsman's killer
Miami (October 29, 2008).—The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today urged the Colombian Supreme Court to conduct a review of legal proceedings in the murder of journalist Nelson Carvajal Carvajal based on the federal Attorney General’s findings that point to numerous irregularities.
The request supports an earlier appeal made to the high court by the Inspector General’s Office following the Attorney General’s decision to take steps to insure the crime would not go unpunished.
Carvajal, a journalist with Radio Sur radio station and a teacher in Pitalito, was murdered on April 16, 1998 as he was about to leave the Pinos School which he ran. He had been making charges of political corruption and wrongdoing in city government.
Actions taken by the Attorney General’s Office this year include an order for the arrest of Huila Chamber of Deputies Speaker Carlos Augusto Rojas Ortiz as one of the alleged masterminds behind the murder, the arrest of Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) members Jovanny Molano Bonilla and Franklin González Ramírez, and a request for review of the 2001 decision by the Neiva High Court upholding the Neiva Specialized Court decision of December 15, 2000 that acquitted former mayor and city council member Fernando Bermúdez Ardila and Ramiro Falla Cuenca, respectively.
Under current law, Justice Yesid Ramírez, a member of the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division, should recuse himself from this case since he served as a judge on the Huila High Court in the 2001 decision that found the defendants not guilty.
As part of its work against impunity, in 2001the IAPA presented the Carvajal case to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights; it was admitted in November 2004. Since then, an amicable solution negotiation process between the organization and the Colombian government has led to new steps to solve the crime which, in turn, led the Judiciary Superior Council to initiate an internal disciplinary investigation to determine whether there had been irregularities in the administration of justice in 2007.
The IAPA also expressed concern at a ruling in Argentina by the Dolores, Buenos Aires province, Criminal Court in favor of Gregorio Ríos who was convicted in 2000 of instigating the 1997 murder of José Luis Cabezas, a photographer with the Buenos Aires magazine Noticias.
Ríos, the head bodyguard of businessman Alfredo Yabrán, was originally sentenced to life imprisonment. The Criminal Appeals Court reduced the sentence to 27 years but ultimately he was released, put under house arrest, required to wear an electronic monitoring device and ordered under the guard of his wife.