A Colombian court has sentenced a state legislator to 36 years and three months in prison as the mastermind behind the killing of a well-known journalist.

Ferney Tapasco was convicted in the 2002 shooting death of Orlando Sierra, the deputy editor of La Patria newspaper in Manizales, about 165 kilometers (102 miles) northeast of Bogota. The sentence was announced Wednesday.

The Committee to Protect Journalists on Thursday praised the sentencing, which came after years of delays and a series of questioned rulings in the case.

Sierra had been a harsh critic of politicians in the region.

One of the witnesses in the case testified that Tapasco paid for Sierra to be killed.