Alias ​​'Cherry' is sentenced to 28 years in prison for the murder of three journalists from El Comercio

Alias ​​’Cherry’ is sentenced to 28 years in prison for the murder of three journalists from El Comercio

The Office of the Attorney General of the Nation confirmed this afternoon the conviction against Gustavo Angulo Arboleda, alias ‘Cherry’, of the dissident Oliver Sinisterra of the Farc, who accepted the charges related to the kidnapping and murder of three members of the journalistic team of El Comercio from Ecuador, for which the Colombian justice sentenced him to pay 28 years and eight months in jail.

This is the second ruling of this type in this case, the first being the one issued against Jesús Vargas Cuajiboy, alias ‘Reinel’, at the end of last March.

It is worth remembering that both veterans are blamed for the death of the journalist Javier Ortega, the photographer Paúl Rivas and the driver Efraín Segarra, protagonists of one of the most mediatic kidnapping cases since the FARC signed peace with the Colombian Government in 2016.

Said kidnapping was registered on March 26 in the Ecuadorian province of Esmeraldas, on the border with Nariño, and ended with the confirmation of the homicide of the three Ecuadorians on April 13 of that same year.

According to the Prosecutor’s Office during the hearing of this Friday, June 11, “the victims were detained by members of the dissident group of the Farc Oliver Sinisterra in Esmeraldas, Ecuador.

They were later transferred to Colombian territory and handed over to alias ‘Cherry’, who presented them to the leader of the organization Walter Patricio Arízala, alias ‘Guacho’ ”.

Although the first of these accepted its responsibility in the facts, the Directorate against Criminal Organizations took the time during the hearing to demonstrate that Angulo was a member of the first ring of the Oliver Sinisterra dissent and, as such, the person in charge of guarding the three workers of the Ecuadorian newspaper; as well as to make clear what the agreement that both parties reached to resolve the case is like.

In this regard, the judge in charge also ruled, who pointed out that “he —alias’ Cherry’— He declares the version of the facts spontaneously and freely, he also makes that act of forgiveness towards the family members.

There is one in particular that is always interacting with the processed. Angulo Arboleda understands the situation of the family members, because he had also been a victim and had lost family members, so it was important for him to give the version of the events to specify how they had happened”.

As such, reported the newspaper El Espectador, the former dissident was sentenced for the crimes of aggravated conspiracy and aggravated extortion kidnapping, for which he will have to spend close to 30 years of confinement in the La Picota Prison in Bogotá.

Regarding this decision, and the act of forgiveness issued by ‘Cherry’ to the families of the three victims, the Foundation for Press Freedom (FLIP) ruled, which by means of an official statement stated that “aka ‘Cherry’ incurred notable contradictions in his version of truth.

Among them, he denied having directed the security rings that guarded the place of captivity of the journalists. He also stated that he was unaware of the circumstances and motivations for the killings; despite the fact that in previous statements in front of the Prosecutor’s Office he acknowledged that he was in charge of the kidnapping security and detailed the events of the night of the murders.

Despite this, it is clear that, even separately, both ‘Cherry’ and ‘Reinel’ used the same strategy of the pre-agreement to reduce their sentence.

The latter, it is worth mentioning, is already serving another sentence of 28 years and 8 months in the maximum security prison of Cómbita, Boyacá. With everything, it remains pending the trial against Gustavo Ospina Sinisterra, alias ‘Barbas’; for the same facts.

Ben Oakley
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