Colombia high court reinstates ex-minister's murder conviction

[JURIST] The Colombian Supreme Court [official website, in Spanish] on Wednesday reinstated the murder conviction against ex-politician Alberto Santofimio Botero for the 1989 killing of Luis Carlos Galan, a political opponent of the drug cartels. The court issued an arrest warrant [El Espectador report] for Santofimio, the former justice minister whose conviction and 24-year sentence were overturned by the High Court of Cundinamarca. He is accused of urging drug cartel kingpin Pablo Escobar to kill his political opponent, Galan, suggesting that Galan would crack down on Escobar and the drug trade. Galan was murdered [AP report] by Escobar's hitmen, one of whom, John Jairo Velasquez, known as "Popeye," was a key witness against Santofimio at his original trial. The court reinstated the conviction after an appeal by Galan's family.

Escobar led the Medellin Cartel drug cartel, which was one of the world's largest suppliers of cocaine. He was killed by police in 1993. Colombia has been struggling with internal violence for decades. In May, the Colombian Senate [official website, in Spanish] passed a law to compensate citizens who have been victimized [JURIST report] by ongoing civil turmoil. The Victims' Law and Land Restitution Law [backgrounder, in Spanish] will provide financial compensation and restitution of land to victims of internal armed conflicts involving paramilitaries and guerrillas during the past 30 years. Individuals who feel they have been victimized by the conflicts since January 1, 1985, are eligible for financial compensation, and those who have also had their land seized or abandoned their land in the wake of armed conflict are subject to restitution of their land. The government estimates that 4 million hectares of land were abandoned and 2 million were seized during conflicts.

 

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