The Nicaraguan concert promoter and club owner thought to have been the real target of a shooting that killed Argentine folk singer Facundo Cabral was sentenced here to 30 years in prison on drug-trafficking, organized crime and money-laundering charges.
Henry Fariña, 41, must serve out his sentence - the maximum allowable under Nicaraguan law - in the Central American country.
Fariña, who reacted calmly as the sentence was read Friday, was arrested on March 30 at the Managua International Airport and was convicted on Sept. 27.
Judge Adela Cardoza also ordered Fariña to pay $6.8 million in fines for drug trafficking and money laundering and to deposit the money in a national penitentiary service account.
Cabral, a 74-year-old folk music icon, was killed on July 9, 2011, in Guatemala.
Fariña was driving Cabral - who had given a concert in Guatemala City the previous night - to La Aurora International Airport when they came under attack.
Guatemalan authorities quickly concluded that Fariña was the real target and the Nicaraguan promoter told them the attack had been ordered by Alejandro Jimenez, a Costa Rican citizen.
Fariña said Jimenez had threatened to kill him for refusing to sell the Elite chain of adult nightclubs in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, but investigators in Guatemala said the dispute between the two men was over the theft of a drug consignment.
According to Nicaragua's Attorney General's Office, Fariña and Jimenez headed an international drug-trafficking ring that smuggled cocaine from Colombia to Mexico via Central America.
The eventual destination of the drugs was the Mexican gang Los Charros, which has ties to the La Familia Michoacana mob.
Fariña was the most prominent of nearly two-dozen defendants in the high-profile trial in Managua.
The others, including two of Fariña's siblings and a former Nicaraguan Supreme Electoral Council magistrate, were sentenced to prison terms ranging from four to 30 years behind bars.
Fariña's brother, Pedro, and sister, Karla, were sentenced to 24 years and eight years in prison, respectively, while the erstwhile member of the Supreme Electoral Council, Julio Cesar Osuna, received a 23-year sentence for money laundering, organized crime and other charges and was ordered to pay a fine of $725,000.
According to the judge, Osuna facilitated false Nicaraguan IDs to members of the gang, including Jimenez, who moved about Nicaragua under the alias Jose Fernando Treminio Diaz.
Colombian pilots Javier Dario Euscategui and Gonzalo Rugeles Perez, arrested in Nicaragua in May and accused of stealing an airplane two months earlier from Bogota's El Dorado International Airport, were sentenced to 27 years and 25 years in prison, respectively.
One defendant, William Vargas Conrado, was acquitted for lack of evidence.
Dozens of witnesses, including anti-narcotics agents and workers at Fariña's nightclub chain, testified during the trial, which began on Aug. 22, most with their faces covered to protect their identities.
Cabral, who is best known for the song "No soy de aqui, ni soy de alla" (I'm not from here nor there), expressed through his songs a message of social protest and that led to his fleeing his native Argentina in 1976, when a right-wing dictatorship took power, and continuing his musical career in Mexico.
He returned to Argentina in 1984 after democracy had been restored and continued to enjoy success as an artist, selling albums and filling theaters and stadiums.
Cabral, who talked frequently in public about Jesus Christ, Gandhi and Mother Teresa of Calcutta, had lived for many years at a hotel in Buenos Aires - nearly blind but never ceasing to create music and communicate his art. EFE