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Former Colombian intelligence official sentenced to 30 years for murder of journalist Jaime Garzón



One day after the 19-year anniversary of the murder of Colombian journalist Jaime Garzón Forero, a second conviction in the crime against him was reported.

Statue in honor of Jaime Garzón, humorist, journalist and lawyer who was killed in Bogota in 1999. (By Chrihern [GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons)

In a decision in the first instance, on Aug. 14, a Bogota judge sentenced José Miguel Narváez, former deputy director of the now-defunct intelligence agency DAS (Administrative Department of Security) of the country who was accused of aggravated homicide, to 30 years in prison, reported El Colombiano.

According to the judicial investigations, Narváez suggested to the former head of the paramilitary group Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC), Carlos Castaño, to assassinate the journalist “whom he pointed out as being close to the ELN guerrillas,” El Espectador reported. According to the prosecutor's office, Narváez had told Castaño that the journalist benefited financially by mediating the release of kidnap victims, the newspaper added.

The prosecutor's office also pointed out that Narváez “had great closeness” to Castaño, “whom he would have advised on military and ideological issues in the fight against subversive groups,” according to El Espectador.

He constantly besieged the chief of the self-defense groups to carry out the crime, for which he provided information that supposedly linked the journalist to the guerrillas and even showed him a photo in which he wore a camouflage jacket in an area of Sumapas,” says the sentence on Narváez, according to newspaper El Tiempo.

El Tiempo also noted that to determine the sentence, the judge took into account “the damage caused to society with the death of Garzón” due to his work as a journalist, humorist, as well as his humanitarian work helping the kidnapped. “The damage caused by the death of the aforementioned reaches a height when cutting across the social fabric,” says the decision, El Tiempo added.

Narváez will also have to pay compensation to Garzón's family of 390 million Colombian pesos (approximately US $130,000), the newspaper added.

In his defense, Narváez pointed out that there was not enough evidence to link him to the case and that the witnesses presented "are hearsay" assuring that they had no direct knowledge of the presumed meetings between him and Castaño, El Espectador published.

The trial against Narvaez began in 2011, but his sentence was only just now passed down.

Before Narvaez, only one person had been convicted for this crime. In 2004, Castaño was convicted as an intellectual author, however, the sentence came when he was already dead.

Garzon was killed by hit men in the early hours of Aug. 13, 1999 when he was driving in his vehicle to station Radionet.

Narváez already has a sentence of eight years in prison for illegal interceptions and tracking of journalists, human rights defenders and members of NGOs, said El Espectador. He is also investigated for the case of psychological torture and intimidation against the journalist Claudia Julieta Duque who investigated Garzón's murder.



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