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JOURNALISM IN THE AMERICAS Blog

Man sentenced to almost 50 years in prison for 2015 murder of Colombian journalist



Juan Camilo Ortiz was sentenced to 47 years, six months and two days in prison for murdering 31-year-old Colombian journalist Flor Alba Núñez Vargas, El Colombiano reported.

On Sept. 8, after a nearly two-year trial in which the prosecution gathered 93 pieces of evidence pointing to Ortiz as the murderer of the journalist, the Third Criminal Court of the Specialized Circuit of the city of Neiva handed down the sentence against Ortiz after finding him guilty of the death of Núñez.

The young journalist died on Sept. 10, 2015, after receiving two shots in the back while entering the radio station La Preferida Stéreo, where she worked in Pitalito, municipality of Huila. She also collaborated with several television channels and newspapers, including Canal 6, Nación TV and the newspaper La Nación.

The man who shot her then fled on a motorcycle. Shortly after, on Sept. 27 of that same year, Juan Camilo Ortiz, alias "El Loco,” was arrested in Palmito, Sucre by order of the Office of the Prosecutor, El Espectador reported.

The prosecution accused Ortiz of the crimes of aggravated homicide and other charges. Ortiz allegedly acted with Jaumeth Albeiro Florez, alias "El Chory," whom the public prosecutor accused of being the driver of the motorcycle on which Ortiz fled after the murder. Flórez is still a fugitive, according to the Foundation for Press Freedom (FLIP for its acronym in Spanish).

According to Semana, for the prosecution, one of the main hypotheses for Núñez’s murder was personal revenge. In 2014, the journalist reported that Ortiz, accused by the public prosecutor's of being one of the hitmen who fired five times against veterinarian Juliette Henao in Pitalito, had been freed under house arrest by order of the judge on his case.

In her investigations, Núñez also reports on acts of corruption in local politics, as well as the growth of criminal gangs in the region.

One of her colleagues, who did not reveal her name, told Semana that the attack against the veterinarian was reported by several journalists, not only by Núñez. Regarding other investigations carried out by the journalist before her death, her colleague also said that "on the day she was killed she would report that a councilor and a mayoral candidate were forcing community mothers to vote for them."

For FLIP, this ruling is a partial victory. "The other perpetrator has not yet been brought to justice and no investigative strategy has been established to identify the intellectual authors of the crime," the organization said on its website.

Including Núñez, 153 journalists have been killed in the last 40 years in Colombia, according to FLIP. The foundation urged judicial authorities to continue investigating the journalist’s murder in order to find the intellectual authors behind her death.

 

 



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