Six men sentenced in murder of Dominican journalist who was killed in 2015

Six men received a total 150 years in prison for the 2015 murder of Dominican journalist Blas Olivo, four years after his death.

José Radhamés Lorenzo, aka Antón, was sentenced to 30 years in prison by the Collegiate Court of the province of Monseñor Nouel for having fired on the journalist, as reported by Dominican newspaper El Día. Another five people implicated – Iván Eliseo de León, José Manuel Vargas, Joel Peña Rodríguez, Wilmer de Jesús Camacho and Darling Franco Vásquez – were sentenced to 20 years in prison each, the site said.

Those sentenced, who also were found guilty of belonging to a criminal gang that abducted and robbed people on public roads, must also pay compensation of eight million Dominican pesos (about US $159,000) to Olivo’s children, El Dia reported.

According to the site Acento, police reports indicated that Olivo was abducted by a gang of criminals to steal his Jeep.

According to the site Listín Diario, the public prosecution had requested the maximum penalty of 30 years for all those implicated.

Olivo – an economist, former press director of the Dominican Agribusiness Board (JAD) and a journalist with 30 years of experience covering agricultural and environmental issues – was found dead with four bullet wounds on April 12, 2015 in the municipality of Piedra Blanca, in the southeastern region of the country. Olivo allegedly was intercepted in his vehicle by several men after leaving his relatives' house in Bonao, Listín Diario reported. His vehicle was found abandoned on a farm in another province in the north of the country, the media outlet said.

An editorial column in the Dominican newspaper El Nacional, published in February 2019, indicated that Olivo's death could not have been coincidental, that "it was a planned death, that someone wanted to remove him from the media outlet, 'to put him under.’" The opinion article, written four months before the latest sentences, also points to the four-year delay of the judicial decision as suspicious.