New York, February 2, 2018–The sentencing of the gunman responsible for the 2015 murder of Colombian radio journalist Luis Antonio Peralta Cuéllar and his wife Sofía Quintero is a welcome step toward justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. A court in Florencia, the capital of the southwestern province of Caquetá, yesterday sentenced Yean Arlex Buenaventura to 58 years and three months in prison for the killing of Peralta and Quintero, who were shot on February 14, 2015, near the entrance of their home in the town of Doncello, according to news reports.
Peralta, 63, had worked as a journalist for more than three decades before his murder. He was the owner and director of Linda Stereo radio station, where he broadcast critical investigative reporting on local issues including the oil industry, state contracts, and alleged corruption in local government, according to news reports. In its decision, the court found that evidence indicated Peralta had been killed in retaliation for his work as a journalist, specifically the critical broadcasts on his radio program, according to the Bogotá-based Foundation for Press Freedom (FLIP).
“This sentencing is an important sign that the murderers of Colombian journalists will no longer evade justice,” CPJ Deputy Executive Director Robert Mahoney said. “We urge authorities to actively pursue their investigation and identify the masterminds and all those behind this crime and find justice for Luis Antonio Peralta and Sofia Quintero.”
This is the second major prison sentence handed down for the killing of a Colombian journalist in the last six months and the longest sentence ever handed down for a crime against freedom of expression in Colombia, according to FLIP. In September 2017, Juan Camilo Ortiz was sentenced to 47 years and 6 months in prison for the 2015 murder of broadcast reporter Flor Alba Núñez Vargas. Although Colombia’s record on impunity has improved since 2015, Colombian journalists still face widespread threats and violence, CPJ research has found.