Caracas, August 19th 2014 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – After a trial that began in November before the Public Prosecutor in Caracas, five citizens have been sentenced to seven years in prison for the murder of Yukpa leader Sabino Romero on March 3, 2013.
Romero was killed in Zulia state when two men on a motorcycle intercepted his vehicle and shot at him and his partner, Lucia Martinez de Romero, who survived the attack.
One of the chiefs of the Yukpa indigenous group, Romero had been a key figure in the fight for Yukpa land in the state’s Sierra de Perija region. While the Venezuelan government has granted much of the land to the indigenous group, cattle ranchers have continued to occupy it, citing insufficient compensation.
After the trial for the murder began in November 2013, Martinez’s lawyer claimed that the accused named 12 ranchers who had allegedly raised Bs 2 million for the murder. None have been apprehended thus far.
In an open letter to the Venezuelan President and Secretary General, Zulia-based NGO Homo et Natura condemned the decision, noting that it represented the collaboration of the country’s legal, political, and police branches to ensure that “negotiation prevails over justice, [and] the corrupt state over civic values.”
The citizens – Rigoberto Socorro, Jhon Petit, Eusquides Derizan, Delvis Cardenas, and Giovanny Delgado – were arrested on August 26, 2013 for complicity in the murder, following a five-month investigation by authorities. Angel Romero, also charged with the crime, remains on trial.