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Cablegate: Magdalena Governor Convicted for Paramilitary Ties

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DE RUEHBO #7456 2911949
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 181949Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9570
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 7803
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 9433
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ OCT 8978
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA PRIORITY 5526
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA PRIORITY 0732
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 6164
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL PRIORITY 4121
RUEAWJC/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS BOGOTA 007456

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PINR PREF PREL PTER CO
SUBJECT: MAGDALENA GOVERNOR CONVICTED FOR PARAMILITARY TIES

REF: BOGOTA 7240

1. Trino Luna Correa, Liberal party member and former
governor of Magdalena, plead guilty to aggravated conspiracy
(concierto para delinquir agravado) to commit crime due to
his paramilitary ties on October 14. Luna, who ran
uncontested in 2003, was detained in March for ties to para
leaders Rodrigo Tovar Pupo ("Jorge 40") and Hernan Giraldo.
A Bogota judge sentenced Luna to 44 months in jail and fined
him $250,000. The sentencing range for "aggravated
conspiracy" is 72-144 months, but the judge--in accordance
with Colombian sentencing guidelines--reduced Luna's sentence
due to: 1) his lack of a prior criminal record; 2) his crimes
were not considered "aggravated circumstances" that caused
excessive injury; 3) he voluntarily turned himself in to
authorities; and 4) he plead guilty. His time already served
in prison will count towards the sentence. The sentence does
not refer to his future eligibility to run for political
office, but the Colombian Constitution bans individuals who
serve prison time from holding office except in instances
involving "political crimes."

2. The Prosecutor General's Office (Fiscalia) confirmed it
will not appeal the sentence and expressed satisfaction with
the judge's decision. Luna had resigned his post as governor
to shift jurisdiction from the Supreme Court to the Fiscalia.
While permissible under Colombian law, Trina hoped he would
receive more lenient treatment from local prosecutors and
judges. To insulate the case from political pressure, the
Fiscalia asked for the case to be transferred to a
specialized circuit judge in Bogota. Former Congressman
Alfonso Campo, also from Magdalena, has also plead guilty to
aggravated conspiracy charges and is awaiting sentencing.

3. The Supreme Court is currently investigating 37 of
Colombia's 268 legislators for links with former
paramilitaries. Fourteen legislators are in jail, one a
fugitive and twenty-two under formal investigation. Per
reftel, jailed politicians are pushing for a new law that
would reduce or eliminate jail time for para politicians and
allow them to continue in politics. President Uribe has
voiced interest in a bill that would make para-politicians
sentences proportional to those received by paramilitary
leaders, but has also insisted that any such law require
para-politicans to serve jail time, tell the truth about
their crimes, and be banned for life from politics.
Brownfield

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