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Colombian arrested over death of journalist

November 1, 2015

Colombian police have arrested a fugitive ex-lawmaker sentenced to 36 years in jail for killing a journalist who had accused him of corruption, the government said Sunday.

Francisco Ferney Tapasco was arrested in the western town of Manizales, Defense Minister Luis Carlos Villegas said on Twitter.

Ferney Tapasco was convicted and sentenced in June for masterminding the 2002 killing of newspaper journalist Orlando Sierra and was tried in absentia.

Prior to the conviction, Ferney Tapasco had also been found guilty of having ties to rightwing paramilitaries.

Sierra had been deputy editor of the regional newspaper La Patria when he was murdered. He died two days after being shot in Manizales.

Prior to the attack, Sierra said he was receiving death threats.

The journalist had written opinion pieces criticizing government officials for alleged corruption, including Ferney Tapasco while he was serving as a regional lawmaker, court documents said.

A total of 41 journalists have been killed in Colombia since 1992, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.