Last Updated: Friday, 28 November 2014, 15:42 GMT

Journalists Killed in 2003 - Motive Confirmed: José Emeterio Rivas

Publisher Committee to Protect Journalists
Publication Date January 2004
Cite as Committee to Protect Journalists, Journalists Killed in 2003 - Motive Confirmed: José Emeterio Rivas, January 2004, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4e64959222.html [accessed 29 November 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Radio Calor Estéreo
April 6, 2003, in Barrancabermeja, Colombia

Police found the bullet-riddled body of radio commentator Rivas, host of the morning program "Fuerzas Vivas" (Live Forces), on a road outside Barrancabermeja, according to news reports and CPJ interviews.

In the weeks prior to his death, Rivas accused then-Mayor Julio César Ardila Torres and other local officials of corruption and collaboration with members of the right-wing paramilitary group United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), according to CPJ research. Diego Waldrón, a colleague, told CPJ that Rivas had received repeated death threats.

Nearly six years later, a court in the northern province of Santander convicted Ardilla and two former public works officials of plotting the murder. On January 15, 2009, the court sentenced Ardila to 28 years and eight months in prison on charges of aggravated murder and conspiracy, according to a statement issued by the attorney general's office. Former public works officials Fabio Pajón Lizcano and Abelardo Rueda Tobón were sentenced to 26 years and eight months in prison apiece on aggravated murder charges. Ardila was also fined 1,192 million pesos (US$531,000).

The three were the first masterminds to be convicted and imprisoned in a journalist killing in Colombia since 1992, CPJ research shows.

In a statement, the attorney general's office said Rivas was murdered in retaliation for his reports on official corruption and links between Ardila's administration and right-wing paramilitary groups. A fourth defendant, Juan Pablo Ariza Castañeda, was acquitted.

Ardila, Pajón, and Lizcano had faced allegations in the case as early as September 2003, according to CPJ research. In 2007, the human rights unit of the attorney general's office restarted the investigation after a demobilized paramilitary fighter Pablo Emilio Quintero Dodino confessed to shooting Rivas at the behest of the local officials.

Quintero, a one-time member of the AUC, made the statement during Law of Justice and Peace proceedings. The law grants leniency to members of illegal armed groups in exchange for demobilization and full confessions to their crimes. Quintero was convicted of engaging in paramilitary activities but not in the killing itself.

Rivas' body was found alongside another male victim, according to CPJ interviews. The relationship between Rivas and the other victim was not clear, local police commander Col. Jorge Gil told CPJ.

Medium:Radio
Job:Columnist / Commentator
Beats Covered:Corruption, Politics
Gender:Male
Local or Foreign:Local
Freelance:No
Type of Death:Murder
Suspected Source of Fire:Government Officials, Paramilitary Group
Impunity:No
Taken Captive:No
Tortured:No
Threatened:Yes

 

Copyright notice: © Committee to Protect Journalists. All rights reserved. Articles may be reproduced only with permission from CPJ.

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