Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Colombia: Update--Acquitted Mastermind of Assassination of Prominent Journalist Released from Prison

According to The Latin American Tribune, Ferney Tapasco, the former legislator who was acquitted last week of the 2002 murder of prominent journalist Orlando Sierra, was released from Picota Prison on Friday (December 27). 

Sierra was deputy editor of La Patria, when he was gunned down on January 30, 2002, by two gunmen confronted Sierra on January 30, 2002, as he was leaving his office with his young daughter. The assassins shot Sierra multiple times in the presence of his daughter.

COMMENT: A judge ruled last week to acquit Tapasco of the assassination.  

The case against Tapasco “was politically motivated and aimed at discrediting the accused, knowing that he was the first person who would be suspected, and that is what happened,” Judge Carlos Eduardo Gonzalez said in his ruling.

Unfortunately, although the Attorney General's office said on December 26 that they would appeal the judge's ruling, presumably they could stop Tapasco from being released from prison.

The judge in Pereira, capital of the central department of Risaralda, said prosecutors did not present definitive evidence linking Tapasco to the slaying of Sierra.

The acquittal will be appealed to the Pereira Superior Court, the AG’s office said, insisting that there is more than sufficient evidence and testimony demonstrating Tapasco’s role in the murder.

Luis Arley Ortiz Orozco and Francisco Antonio Quintero have each been sentenced to 28 years in prison for their part in the crime.

In all likelihood, Tapasco may potentially disappear before he can be rearrested. 

LA PATRIA is a privately owned daily in the central Colombian city of Manizales, which has a population of 350,000. It is well known for its coffee production.