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Man Who Bombed Avianca Flight Sentenced to Life

May 5, 1995 GMT

NEW YORK (AP) _ A man described as a ``narco-terrorist″ for killing 110 people with a bomb he planted on a Colombian jetliner was sentenced Friday to 10 life prison terms.

The Avianca flight blew up over Bogota on Nov. 27, 1989. It wasn’t until 1991 that Dandeny Munoz-Mosquera, already in prison on other charges, was indicted in the case.

Munoz-Mosquera was portrayed at his trial as a hired killer and drug smuggler in the violent Medellin cartel, then headed by Pablo Escobar.

Escobar also was indicted for the bombing of Flight 203, but was killed in a shootout with Colombian security forces in 1993. Authorities said Escobar was believed to have targeted the plane because he suspected drug-trade rivals or informants were on board.

The bomb on Flight 203, bound for Cali, killed 107 passengers, including two Americans, and three people on the ground.

U.S. District Judge Sterling Johnson Jr. sentenced Munoz-Mosquera to 10 consecutive life terms plus 45 years in prison. He was convicted in December of 13 charges, including racketeering, cocaine smuggling, destruction of an aircraft and first-degree murder for the deaths of the two Americans.

``God and the government know I’m innocent,″ Munoz-Mosquera said in Spanish before he was sentenced.

``This prosecution and the outcome is a message not only to narco-terrorists in Colombia, but terrorists all over the world, and that is that you do not go around killing innocent American citizens no matter where they are,″ prosecutor Cheryl Pollak said.

Munoz-Mosquera was convicted in his second trial. The first trial ended in a hung jury last summer.

Witnesses testified that Munoz-Mosquera began his career as a hitman at age 12. They said he had murdered at least 50 police officers, judges and public officials in Colombia before escaping from a Bogota prison in 1991. He was there for armed robbery and had other charges pending.

He was picked up in New York later in 1991 and charged with lying to federal agents about his identity. He was convicted of that and other charges and was serving a six-year prison term when he was indicted in the Avianca bombing.