BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: Americas
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Friday, 4 August, 2000, 17:45 GMT 18:45 UK
Dominican general jailed over killing
Judge Katia Miguelina Jiménez
The accused hear the verdict (photo courtesy of El Siglo newspaper)
A judge in the Dominican Republic has handed down 30-year jail sentences to a retired air force general and three others in connection with the killing in March 1975 of a left-wing journalist, Orlando Martinez.

I am an anti-communist and will be until death, and I did what my conscience commanded me to

Guilty gunman Rafael Lluberes Ricart
General Joaquin Antonio Pou Castro is one of a number of Dominican Republic military officers accused of belonging to a death squad which shot Mr Martinez after he criticised the government of the then president, Joaquin Balaguer.

Mr Balaguer always claimed to know who carried out the killing but refused to tell the judicial authorities.

The ruling was seen by many Dominicans as showing a new spirit in the judicial system Dominican Republic.

Despite some initial arrests and a reward for information offered by Mr Balaguer the case remained in limbo until President Leonel Fernandez, elected in 1996, ordered it reopened.

Gunned down

Orlando Martinez Howley, a member of the outlawed Dominican Communist Party, director of the opposition magazine 'Ahora' and a celebrated columnist for El Nacional newspaper, was gunned down in March 1975, on a Santo Domingo street.

Orlando Martinez
Supporters keep alive the name of Orlando Martinez
He had been warned that his reporting offended high-ranking officials, including the president, his family said.

As well as General Castro and the gunman Rafael Lluberes Ricart, two other men were found guilty, including a former air force officer.

All four admitted their guilt.

"I am an anti-communist and will be until death, and I did what my conscience commanded me to," declared Lluberes Ricart.

As well as imposing the maximum prison sentence permitted by law, the four were each fined $312,500.

Blank page

It was unclear whether the dead man's family would pursue a case against Mr Balaguer, who despite being 93 years old and in frail health made an unsuccessful bid in May to win a seventh presidential term.

Joaquin Balaguer
Balaguer: 'Silent, like a tomb'
In Mr Balaguer's 1988 autobiography, the former president left a blank page in his book to symbolise the untold story, a case he described as "silent, like a tomb".

He refused to testify at the two-week trial, citing poor health.

Prosecutors are now also investigating the 1994 disappearance of journalist Narciso Gonzalez, who had accused Balaguer of election fraud that year.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
See also:

Links to more Americas stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Americas stories