Bolivia upholds French couple’s murder ruling

A Bolivian court on Thursday upheld the 30-year prison sentence of a man convicted of killing a young French couple in 2010.

Bolivia upholds French couple's murder ruling
Convicted killer Jaime Martinez (c). Photo: Aizar Raldes/AFP

A Bolivian court on Thursday upheld the 30-year prison sentence of a man convicted of killing a young French couple in 2010.

Jaime Martinez was convicted of being the ringleader of a four-man group that killed tourists Jeremie Bellanger, 25, and Fannie Blancho, 23, after sexually assaulting Blancho.

He was sentenced in February 2014 to 30 years without possibility of parole.

Martinez, the son of a wealth cattle rancher, appealed the sentence, but the Supreme Court of Justice in the city of Sucre upheld it, the end of the road for the appeals process.

Martinez, a 32-year-old Bolivian national, will now be transferred to a maximum-security prison outside the capital La Paz.

Bellanger's parents, who were in court for the ruling, welcomed the decision in a statement, saying it was "the result of a four and a half year struggle for justice."

They called on the Bolivian government to transfer Martinez quickly, saying they feared he could escape from his current prison in the central city of Trinidad.

The couple were travelling around Latin America when, according to prosecutors, Martinez approached them at a night club in the northern town of Guayaramerin and invited them to come back to his ranch.

Prosecutors say that is where they were killed, after an attempted rape on Blancho. But the bodies were never found.