Orlando Sierra Hernández
January 30, 2002


Orlando Sierra, Colombia



Orlando Sierra Hernández, shot three times in the head on January 30, 2002, fought against the treacherous attack and death for 48 hours in the hospital in Caldas, Colombia. The philosopher and journalist, 42, was the deputy editor of La Patria, in Manizales when he was killed as he arrived at work with his daughter at two in the afternoon.



Security cameras told the story and a review of tapes allowed identification of the perpetrator that same day. He confessed that it had been "mistake." Five months after the shooting, Luis Fernando Soto Zapata was sentenced to 19 years and six months in jail as the perpetrator. And a few days later the court sent Luis "Tilín" Tabarés and Luis "Pereque" Osorio to prison for 28 years each as co-perpetrators and responsible for hiring the gunman who killed the journalist.



During the irregular investigation a retired police officer, four gunmen and a witness who could shed light on the killing were all found dead.



The IAPA produced a video documentary on the Sierra case that was widely distributed on broadcast and cable, in IAPA courses and seminars and across the continent.



In the meantime, the defense took steps to successfully lower the prison sentences and obtain other benefits which resulted in Soto Zapata’s release only five years after his conviction. Nonetheless, as a repeat offender he reverted to his old ways and a year after his release died in a shoot-out with police after assaulting and killing a businessman in Cali.



The Human Rights Office also continued seeking possible links to a criminal network in the murder case of Orlando Sierra. That was how Oscar "Aguadas" Lopez came to be arrested for alleged aggravated homicide. As a bodyguard for former Caldas deputy and politician Tabasco Ferney Fernández, whom Sierra had criticized in his opinion column, Lopez was subpoened to testify. Shortly thereafter, the Attorney General's Office requested prosecutors to accuse the politicians as criminal masterminds. That’s how it came to be that the Cali daily El Pais on its website in October 2010 reported that Tabasco and his son Dickson, a former member of the House of Representatives, were summoned for questioning for alleged involvement in the assassination of former deputy editor of La Patria, while at the same time the prosecutor ordered the preventive detention of Henry Street Obando, accused of aggravated homicide and conspiracy in the Sierra’s death.