Dominican court sentences man for 2011 murder of journalist

April 11, 2018 GMT

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) — A Dominican court sentenced a businessman to 20 years in prison Tuesday for being the mastermind of the 2011 kidnapping and murder of a journalist who had promised to reveal information about the man’s alleged links to drug trafficking.

The killing of Jose Silvestre, who edited a magazine and had a program on a local television station in La Romana province, was the first case of a journalist in the Dominican Republic being murdered directly for his statements against members of organized crime.

Matias Avelino Castro, 47, was found guilty of being the mastermind behind Silvestre’s murder. Six other people have been arrested and prosecuted in the case. Three of them were sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Castro was a fugitive until his 2016 capture in Colombia. He was extradited to the Dominican Republic last year.

His lawyers did not immediately say if they would appeal the ruling. During the trial in San Pedro de Macoris, 47 miles (75 kilometers) east of Santo Domingo, the defense argued the prosecution had not presented sufficient evidence of Castro’s involvement in the killing.

Silvestre was kidnapped and murdered after his television program announced that the next edition of The Voice of Truth magazine would carry the journalist’s report revealing details of a recent homicide involving a businessman presumably linked to drug traffickers.

At the time, police estimated Castro had assets worth about $130 million.