April 6, 2003
Case: José Emeterio Rivas
Announcer and director of the program “Investigation of Corruption” aired by radio station Calor Estéreo in Barrancabermeja, Santander.
He was murdered together with a university student; their bodies, showing gunshot wounds, were found in Barrancabermeja. He had received threats from paramilitaries that he had sought to interview.
El 13 de enero el ex alcalde de Barrancabermeja, Julio César Ardila Torres, fue condenado por los delitos de homicidio agravado a 28 años y cuatro meses de cárcel. Deberá además cancelar una multa de equivalente a 2.400 mínimos legales y pagar en forma solidaria 100 salarios mínimos legales por los perjuicios morales a favor de los familiares del periodista.
Los ex secretarios Fabio Pajón Lizcano y Abelardo Rueda Tobón, también fueron condenados por el mismo crimen y aplican las mismas sanciones.
Sentences reversed and acquittals: (+)
Juan Pablo Ariza, vinculado a a la Alcaldía de Ardila Torres, fue absuelto y se le concedió el beneficio de libertad condicional.
Released / Sentence commuted: (+)
Jailed awaiting trial: (+)
On September 12, 2007 Juan Pablo Ariza and Abelardo Rueda Tobón, both local politicians who at the time of the murder were working for the then mayor, Julio César Ardila, were arrested in Barrancabermeja, Santander, and accused of participating in the murder. Ariza and Rueda, together with another suspect, Fabio Pajón, were held in preventive custody in 2003, charged with aggravated homicide and conspiracy to commit a crime. They were released from jail after three months.
In 2007 paramilitary Pablo Emilio Quintero Dodino (Bedoya), who had already been charged by the District Attorney’s Office in April 2006 and convicted of other crimes, confessed to having carried out the murder.
On September 23, 2003 Julio César Ardila Torres, former mayor of Barrancabermeja, was ordered held in preventive custody on charges of aggravated homicide and conspiracy to commit a crime, a month later being released from jail. The charge of conspiracy to commit a crime was maintained, but not the aggravated homicide charge.
Suspects not charged: (+)
In April 2006 the Attorney General”s Office charged paramilitary Bolmar Sepúlveda with sedition, homicide and illegal possession of arms. Also accused was former mayor Julio Ardila, of having “supported the objectives” of extreme right-wing groups. But the investigation wound up finding him to be the alleged mastermind of the homicide.
On September 12, 2006 brought into the investigation and giving testimony were paramilitary chiefs Iván Roberto Duque, alias Ernesto Baez, and Rodrigo Pérez Alzate, alias Julián Bolívar. In October of that year a warrant was issued for the arrest of the two.
Pablo Emilio Quintero Dodino said that he was obeying orders from the high command of the Self-Defenses of the Bolívar Central Bloc. He confessed to having participated in the journalist’s murder during open testimony to a judge of the District Attorney’s Office’s Justice and Peace Division.