A former Colombian army officer was sentenced on Monday to 44 years in prison for his role in the deaths of more than 245 civilians, many of whom were hacked to pieces with a power saw, officials said.
Major Alirio Antonio Urena received the sentence for killings systematically carried out against the local population in the town of Trujillo between 1986 and 1994.
At the time, Urena was the commander of an army brigade in Valle de Cauca State with ties to right-wing paramilitaries that were said to be responsible for the systematic assassinations of people in Trujillo, prosecutors said.
The victims of the killings were accused of collaborating with left-wing rebels.
The paramilitaries, who also are said to have close ties with drug traffickers, used power saws to dismember many of their victims. The dead included Tiberio Fernandez, a popular Catholic priest and political organizer whose body was found castrated and decapitated in the Cauca River.
Monday’s verdict was the first by the Colombian justice system in the notorious case, which was reopened in 1991 after justice officials had originally absolved Urena and his codefendants.
In a separate case, seven soldiers were found guilty in connection with the abduction and murder of a man who they falsely claimed was a member of the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
The trial in the city of Villavicencio, 95km south of Bogota, found strong evidence against a major, a lieutenant and five other soldiers involved in the incident, which occurred in July 2007.
According to prosecutors, the soldiers abducted Eduardo Perez and took him to the town of Hato Corozal northeast of Bogota before shooting and killing him. They subsequently said he was a member of the FARC. Investigators later determined that Perez did not belong to the rebels, and filed charges of aggravated murder and kidnapping.
Sentencing was set for Nov. 22 for the soldiers, who were led by Major Gustavo Soto and Lieutenant John Suancha. Soto was the head of an anti-kidnapping unit.
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
ACADEMIC FREEDOM: One professor told her students to submit anonymized papers and not to record any online classes. Some US schools have announced similar steps Students at Oxford University specializing in the study of China are being asked to submit some papers anonymously to protect them from the possibility of retribution under the sweeping new security law introduced three months ago in Hong Kong. The anonymity ruling is to be applied in classes, and group tutorials are to be replaced by one-to-ones. Students are also to be warned that it will be viewed as a disciplinary offence if they tape classes or share them with outside groups. The Hong Kong National Security Law was imposed on June 30 by Beijing after more than a year of pro-democracy
Japan’s government yesterday urged people to seek help if they were struggling to cope, following Sunday’s death of the popular actress and Miss Sherlock star Yuko Takeuchi, 40. News of her death shocked the nation and follows other recent cases of Japanese celebrities taking their lives, with figures showing a recent rise in suicides. Takeuchi was a household name in Japan and had given birth to her second child in January. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato did not mention a particular case, but said that some people were struggling to cope during the COVID-19 pandemic. “There has been an uptick in the number
The scarcity of commercial flights landing at Sydney Airport has been a disaster for airlines and workers, but for hobby pilots the COVID-19 pandemic has provided the opportunity of a lifetime. The quieter-than-usual runways mean that private pilots have been given the chance to land at the international airport for the first time. When Sydney Flight College club captain Tim Lindley put out a call, he received an overwhelming response. He eventually organized for 14 light aircraft to fly into Sydney airport on Sunday. “For a lot of the pilots involved, including myself, it was a childhood dream to land in a big