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News > Latin America

Former Colombian Governor Convicted for Ordering Enemies Killed

  • Former Governor Juan Francisco Gomez was arrested in 2013 for corruption and alleged links for paramilitaries.

    Former Governor Juan Francisco Gomez was arrested in 2013 for corruption and alleged links for paramilitaries. | Photo: Facebook Veeduria Colombia

Published 18 January 2017

The former official was charged for ordering a criminal group to kill his political enemies in Colombia.

A former Colombian governor from the northern state of La Guajira was sentenced to 55 years in prison Tuesday for the murder of three people, including a former mayor, during his time in office.

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Juan Francisco "Kiko" Gomez was arrested in 2013 for the murder of Barrancas Mayor Yandra Brito in 2012 and of her husband Henry Ustariz and his driver Wilfredo Fonseca in 2008.

Gomez had financed Brito's campaign for mayor from 2004 until 2007 in exchange for political favors, but Brito allegedly refused after being advised by her husband.

In an apparent retaliation, the former governor ordered the assassination of Ustariz and Fonseca in April, 2008. According to Brito, Gomez was the mastermind behind the assassinations as she had “received threats from this person," through “intermediaries."

Brito believed that former Governor Gomez assassinated her husband and his driver for political motives with the aid of criminals in the region, after a "meeting where the criminal plan was arranged and where Juan Francisco Gomez participated actively," according to a report by the Attorney General's Office.

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The official report says Gomez ordered the murder of the former mayor on August, 2012, because she "was making contacts with people in order to hurt him, among them leaders of paramilitary groups."

According to the prosecutors, the assassins "had no reason to kill the former mayor, which makes us think that they were sent by some political enemy if one takes into account the complex and convulsed time that La Guajira lived in 2008."

In recent years, there have been guerrilla and paramilitary groups in La Guajira, making it one of the most violent provinces in Colombia.

Gomez has been detained in La Picota prison in Bogota since November, 2015, accused of aggravated homicide, attempted murder, illegal possession of weapons and conspiracy to commit murder.

The former governor also remains under investigation for his ties to the deaths of three other people, including Luis Lopez Peralta, a councilman in Barrancas.

Investigative news website Verdad Abierta said Gomez was part of a contraband group, and according to Semana, a paramilitary member said the former governor had worked with a paramilitary chief.

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