COLOMBIA: Paramilitary fighter convicted for 2002 murder of local journalist


FEBRUARY 27, 2007
Oriiginally posted: July 1, 2002

Efraín Varela Noriega, Radio Meridiano-70

A court in the city of Arauca, 463 miles (746 kilometers) northwest of Bogotá, convicted Andrés Darío Cervantes Montoya, also known as “El Chichi,” for Varela’s murder, said the Colombian attorney general’s office. Cervantes was sentenced to 13 years in prison and ordered to pay monetary compensation to Varela’s family.

On July 27, 2006, Cervantes, who was in jail for an unrelated murder, confessed to shooting Varela, according to a press release from the attorney general. He had been a member of the paramilitary group United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) at the time of Varela’s murder, said the press release.

Varela, owner of the Arauca-based Radio Meridiano-70, was shot multiple times on the face and chest, as he was driving home from a local graduation on June 28, 2002. The journalist, who hosted two controversial news and opinion programs, had sharply criticized AUC presence in the region a few days prior to his death.