- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 26, 2009

BOGOTA (AP) - A Colombian high court has ruled that the government is to blame for a soldier’s 1991 fatal shooting of a provincial journalist and ordered it to pay damages to his family.

Henry Rojas, a correspondent for the Bogota newspaper El Tiempo, was killed at age 36 in the northeastern city of Arauca after reporting on alleged corruption in the mayor’s office and military.

The 27-judge Council of State ruled that the government should pay Rojas’ family $380,000 in damages. The judges made their decision on Feb. 26, but it was not publicized until Thursday.

Colombia has seen a recent decline in the number of reporters murdered, but the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists says self-censorship has made them less of a target. This week, it said 16 of 20 journalist murders in the Andean country in the last decade have gone unsolved.

Wilson Daza, the soldier who fatally shot Rojas, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 1995, according to the Council of State’s ruling. Daza implicated several officers and noncommissioned officers in the killing but none was ever charged, it said.

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