Colombia to Release Reporter's Self-Confessed Torturer

Bogota: Colombian prosecutors have ordered the release of a former paramilitary fighter who admitted to taking part in the torture and rape of a journalist but then retracted his confession, officials said Wednesday.

Alejandro Cardenas Orozco, a former member of a right-wing paramilitary group, confessed in 2011 to taking part in the brutal kidnapping of investigative reporter Jineth Bedoya a decade earlier.

He made the confession under Colombia's "Justice and Peace" law, which disbanded the paramilitary groups involved in the country's long-running civil war and offered members reduced prison sentences if they confessed to their crimes.

But he retracted his confession two years later.

Bedoya herself has identified Cardenas as one of the paramilitary fighters who abducted her in May 2000, drugged her and tortured her for 16 hours "in every way imaginable."

Bedoya, who was 26 at the time, had been reporting on a far-right paramilitary group.
Her attackers raped her and then abandoned her in a garbage dump, naked and bound.

She managed to crawl out and was spotted by a taxi driver.

Bedoya, who still works as a journalist, condemned the decision to release Cardenas.
"Prosecutors ordered the release of one of my rapists. My heart is wounded but my dignity is intact," she wrote on Twitter.

Colombia's Foundation for Press Freedom said it was unfortunate that "prosecutors decided to give more weight to the perpetrator's version than the victim's."

Prosecution spokesman Misael Rodriguez said Cardenas would be set free if no other cases against him were pending.
The decision can still be appealed.

Colombia is still in the grips of a half-century civil war that has drawn in left-wing guerrillas, right-wing paramilitaries and drug gangs at various times, killing more than 220,000 people and uprooting six million.

The government opened peace talks in November 2012 with the largest rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).



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