AFP Asuncion, Paraguay
Jul 12, 2016, 02.09 AM
The man behind the 2012 massacre of 17 police and farmers in Paraguay, in a crisis that helped bring down a president, was sentenced to 35 years in prison on Monday.
Farmers' leader Ruben Villalba was handed the stiffest possible sentence for the killings in Curuguaty, 250 kilometres (155 miles) northwest of the capital. The violence broke out when authorities ordered police in to remove landless farmers who were squatting on ranch land they did not own there.
It helped lead to leftist then president Fernando Lugo's impeachment. Three other suspects convicted along with Villalba were sentenced to terms between 18 and 20 years. Hundreds of Lugo supporters rallied outside the Justice Ministry against the sentences.
Lugo, a former Roman Catholic bishop, was seen as close to leaders of South America's hard left. His vice president served out his term but was not recognised by some countries, and international organisations. Conservative President Horacio Cartes since 2013 has moved the country back to full recognition and international involvement.