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JOURNALISM IN THE AMERICAS Blog

Colombian man sentenced to 58 years in jail for 2015 murder of radio director and wife



A Colombian judge sentenced Yean Arlex Buenaventura to 58 years and 3 months in jail for the 2015 murder of journalist Luis Peralta Cuellar and his wife, Sofía Quintero. According to the Foundation for Press Freedom (FLIP), which represented the victims in court, this is the highest sentence ever handed down in the country for a crime against freedom of expression.

“For FLIP, this is an exemplary ruling punishing crimes against press freedom. However, it should also be an incentive for the investigation to advance and for the intellectual authors of this murder to be identified,” the organization wrote on Twitter.

The judge passed down the sentence for the material author of the crime “after recognizing that Peralta’s murder was motivated by his work as a journalist,” according to FLIP.

Peralta Cuellar, 63-year-old director and owner of radio station Linda Estéreo, was shot along with his wife on Feb. 14, 2015 in Doncello in the department of Caquetá. The attack happened outside his home, which was also his station’s office. Quintero died several months later from her injuries, Caracol Radio reported.

The journalist reported on topics related to administrative corruption, state contracting and the extraction of petroleum, according to FLIP. He also announced his candidacy for mayor of Doncello in early 2015, according to El Espectador.

A judge convicted Buenaventura, alias “El mono,” in December 2017, according to RCN Radio.

Following Buenaventura’s capture on March 4, 2015, FLIP said Peralta Cuellar had received threats days before his murder, but did not tell authorities, according to El Espectador.

In 2015, the year of Peralta Cuellar’s murder, Colombia was one of the deadliest countries in Latin America for journalists, according to a year-end report from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). However, the country dropped off the organization’s Global Impunity Index that same year as convictions against murderers of journalists increased. The index lists the countries in which murderers of journalists most frequently go free.

Still, FLIP has warned about continued physical attacks on journalists, as well as more “sophisticated forms” of censorship in the country. In its 2016 annual report, the organization also called for improvement to the Mechanism for Protection of Journalists, including more judicial convictions of those responsible for attacks on journalists.



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