Local official charged in journalist’s murder

Nelson Carvajal Carvajal, Radio Sur, August 26, 2008 

Original case: April 14, 1998

Colombia’s attorney general ordered the arrest of Carlos Augusto Rojas Ortiz, president of the local Assembly in Huila province, for masterminding Carvajal’s murder in 1998, according to local news reports.

Rojas was reportedly arrested at his home in the Huila capital, Neiva, and taken to Bogotá. Attorney General Mario Iguarán Arana said the human rights arm of his office had enough evidence to link Rojas to the investigation, the Medellín-based daily El Colombiano reported. In addition, Iguarán said his office ordered the arrest of two members of the left-wing Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Giovanni Molano Bonilla, aka “Oswaldo Patiño,” and Franklyn González Ramírez, in connection with the crime. The attorney general’s office also asked the Supreme Court of Justice to review the 2001 acquittal of two other Huila officials.

An unidentified gunman shot Carvajal, a well-known radio journalist in the town of Pitalito, 10 times outside the elementary school where he taught at 6 p.m. on April 14, 1998. The gunman and an accomplice escaped by motorcycle, according to several eyewitnesses. Carvajal was the producer of five community programs on Radio Sur, a local affiliate of Radio Cadena Nacional. In addition to programming on topics ranging from health services to rural development, Carvajal provided investigative reporting about alleged government corruption. The journalist had recently reported on allegations that the former mayor of Pitalito, Ramiro Falla Cuenca, had misappropriated public funds.

On January 5, 1999, police arrested Falla and Fermando Bermúdez, another Pitalito official, said news reports. Both men were accused of Carvajal’s murder. But on December 15, 2000, a Neiva court acquitted both officials.