Army officer jailed for power saw massacres
A former Colombian army officer has been sentenced to 44 years in prison for his role in the deaths of more than 245 civilians, many of whom were hacked to pieces with a power saw, officials said.
Retired major Alirio Antonio Urena received the sentence on Monday (local time) for killings systematically carried out against the local population of the town of Trujillo in western Colombia between 1986 and 1994.
At the time, Urena was a commander in Colombia's Valle de Cauca state of an army brigade with ties to right-wing paramilitaries which was said to be responsible for the systematic assassinations of people in Trujillo, prosecutors said.
The victims of the killings were accused of collaborating with left-wing rebels, against whom the Colombian military has been waging a decades-long war.
The paramilitaries, who also are said to have close ties with drug traffickers, used power saws to dismember many of the victims.
The dead included Tiberio Fernandez, a popular Catholic priest and political organiser whose body was found castrated and decapitated in the Cauca River.
Monday's verdict was the first by the Colombian justice system in the notorious case, which was reopened in 1991 after justice officials originally had absolved the Urena and his co-defendants.
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