Home » 28-year sentence for ELN Leaders for Murder of Colombian Councilor in 1998

28-year sentence for ELN Leaders for Murder of Colombian Councilor in 1998

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28-year sentence for ELN Leaders for Murder of Colombian Councilor in 1998

In a historic verdict issued by a Colombian judge, three senior leaders of the Central Command (COCE) of the National Liberation Army (ELN) and Nicolás Rodríguez Bautista, alias ‘Gabino’, former commander of that guerrilla, have been sentenced to 28 years in prison for his involvement in the murder of Juan Bautista Agudelo López, councilor of the municipality of Pueblo Rico in the department of Risaralda, in 1998.

The convicted guerrilla commanders are Eliécer Chamorro, known as ‘Antonio García’ and top leader of the ELN; Rafael Sierra, alias ‘Ramiro Vargas’; and Israel Ramírez Pineda, ‘Pablo Beltrán’, who is also the group’s chief peace negotiator in talks with the Government.

The murder took place on November 30, 1998, when Agudelo López refused to resign from his position as councilor, defying the demands of the ELN. The Prosecutor’s Office revealed that the victim received an intimidating letter that summoned him to a rural school to clarify the situation. When he went to the indicated place, he was surprised, left defenseless and attacked indiscriminately with firearms.

The Cacique Calarcá front of the ELN was identified as responsible for this crime, executing the directives of the top leaders of the criminal organization. The guerrilla leaders were sentenced to 28 years in prison for the crime of aggravated homicide.

This verdict comes at a crucial moment, since the ELN announced on February 20 the suspension of peace talks with the Colombian Government, arguing that the counterpart has violated the agreements established at the Talks Table. This decision to freeze the talks comes less than two weeks after the end of the sixth cycle of negotiations in Havana, where the extension of the bilateral ceasefire and the temporary suspension of economic withholdings, known as kidnappings, were agreed.

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The condemnation of ELN leaders for the murder of Agudelo López reflects a significant step in the search for justice for victims of political violence in Colombia, while the current state of peace talks poses additional challenges for reconciliation and stability in the region.

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