COLOMBIA: Two politicians arrested for 2003 journalist murder

September 13, 2007
Posted September 21, 2007

José Emeterio Rivas, Calor Estéreo

Two local politicians have been arrested by Colombian authorities in the northern city of Barrancabermeja in connection with the April 2003 Rivas murder, according to press reports.

Juan Pablo Ariza, a candidate for the local city council, and Abelardo Rueda Tobón, who is running for state assembly, were detained after the Human Rights Unit of the attorney general’s office issued arrests warrants for their arrest, reported the Colombian press. The politicians, who are accused of aggravated murder and conspiring to commit a crime, were taken to a maximum security prison in the nearby city of Bucaramanga, reported the national daily El Tiempo.

Ariza and Rueda had been arrested in July 2003 and released a few months later. At the time of their initial arrest, they worked for the administration of then Barrancabermeja mayor Julio César Ardila Torres. According to El Tiempo,an arrest warrant was also issued for Ardila, who had been arrested in 2003 alongside Ariza and Rueda.

An apparent break in the case came on June 7 when Pablo Emilio Quintero Dodino, known as Bedoya, a demobilized member of the far-right paramilitary group United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) confessed to murdering Rivas as part of a peace process between paramilitaries and the Colombian government.

Rivas, a 44-year-old journalist for Radio Calor Estéreo, was killed by unidentified gunmen. Police found his bullet-ridden body alongside four other bodies on April 7 on a dirt road outside Barrancabermeja. Rivas hosted a controversial morning program on Radio Calor Estéreo called “Fuerzas Vivas” (Live Forces). In the weeks before his death, he had publicly accused mayor Ardila of corruption and collaboration with members of the AUC.