Wednesday, October 10, 2012

La Bestia - Luis Garavito

Luis Garavito, aka. Luis Alfredo Garavito Cubillos, aka. La Bestia, “The Beast” (born 25 January 1957 in Génova, Quindío) is a Colombian rapist and serial killer. In 1999 he admitted he had murdered and raped 140 young boys. The number of his potential victims - based on skeletons found based on maps Garavito drew in prison - could eventually reach more than 300. He has been described by the local media as “the world’s worst serial killer” because of the high number of victims.

Once captured, Garavito was subject to the maximum penalty available under Colombia’s justice for his crime, which was 30 years. However, as he confessed the crimes and helped the authorities to find the bodies, Colombian law allowed him to apply for special benefits, including a reduction of his sentence to 22 years and the possibility of an even earlier release for further cooperation and good behavior.

In subsequent years, Colombians have increasingly felt that, due to Garavito’s approaching early release, his sentence would not be enough punishment for the atrocious and shocking crimes he committed. Colombian law originally did not have any way to extend the sentence, as cases of mass murderers like Garavito had no legal precedent in the country and thus the legal system remained unable to properly address this case.

In late 2006, however, a judicial review of the cases against Garavito in different local jurisdictions found that his sentence could be extended and his release delayed, due to the existence of crimes that he has not confessed and which he has not been previously condemned for.

Luis Alfredo Garavito was born on January 25, 1957 in Génova, Quindío (Colombia). He is the oldest of seven brothers, and apparently suffered physical and emotional abuse by his father. In his testimony he expressed being a victim of sexual abuse when he was young.

According to law enforcement offices, Luis Garavito was responsible for the murder of 172 children, committed between 1992 and 1998, though not all corpses have been recovered or identified.

The victims were poor children, peasant children, or street children, between ages 6 and 16. He approached them on the streets or the country side and offered them gifts or small amounts of money. After gaining their trust, he’d take the children for a walk and when they got tired he’d take advantage of them. He then proceeded to rape them and cut their throats, and usually dismembered their corpses after killing them. Most of the corpses were found with signs of torture.

Luis Alfredo Garavito was captured on 22 April 1999. He confessed to having murdered 140 different children. However, he is still under investigation for the murder of 172 children in more than 59 counties in Colombia.

He was found guilty for 138 of the 172 cases, and the others are still in process. The sentences for these 138 cases add to 1,853 years and 9 days. Because of Colombian law restrictions, however, he cannot be imprisoned for more than 30 years. In addition, because he helped the authorities in finding the bodies, his sentence has been decreased to 22 years.

As Garavito served the later years of sentence, many Colombians began to gradually criticize the possibility of his early release, some arguing that he would deserve life in jail or the death penalty, forms of legal punishment that are currently not applicable in Colombia.

In 2006, local TV host Pirry made an interview with Luis Garavito, aired on June 11. In this TV special, Pirry mentioned that during the interview the killer tried to minimize his actions and expressed his intentions to start a political career in order to help abused children. Pirry also described Garavito’s conditions in prison and comments on the fact that, due to good behavior, he could probably apply for early release within 3 years.

After the Pirry interview aired, criticism of Gavarito’s situation gained increased notoriety in the media and in political circles. A judicial review of the cases against Garavito in different local jurisdictions found that his sentence could potentially be extended and his release delayed, because he would have to answer for unconfessed crimes separately, as they were not covered by his previous judicial process.

Some Colombians have started petitions demanding changes in the law in order to extend the number of years that killers like Garavito would have to stay in prison. Such changes, however, would not necessarily have retroactive effects and could only affect future cases.



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