10 Military Men Implicated in the Massacre of San Jose de Apartado Might Be Freed

(Translated by Emily Hansen)

El Tiempo
January 21, 2010
        Lawyers of the victims of the massacre have warned that the military men charged with mass murder could be freed from prison within the next month.
         To prevent that, at their first possible opportunity the victims’ lawyers will ask the Supreme Judicial Council to name a Decongestion Judge to facilitate the judicial process, which has been suspended since December due to the delay strategies of the military defense and the inexplicable loss of much evidence.
         The military men accused of the murders are Colonel Orlando Espinosa Beltran, Major Jose Fernando Castano Lopez, Lieutenant Alejandro Jaramillo Giraldo, Captain Sabarain Cruz Reina, Corporal Ricardo Bastidas Candia and Sargents Angel Maria Padilla Petro, Jorge Humberto Milanes Vega, Henry Agudelo Guasmayan Ortega, Edgar Garcia Estupinan and Dario Brango Agamez.
         The military men were called to justice on the 26th of February of last year for their participation in the massacre that took place the 21st of February 2005, in which eight people were massacred, including four minors.  The charges include barbarous acts, being co-conspirators in first-degree homicide, and conspiracy to commit a criminal offense
“False Positive” Coincidences
The lawyers of the victims have stated that that the Defense Attorney in the case of the military men of San Jose de Apartado is the same that is being investigated by the Judiciary for strategically prolonging the judiciary process in the “false positives” case.  Additionally, that same Defense Lawyer has been found to be part of an organization known as the Integral Military Defense (Demil) which is a private organization headed by officials of the Armed Forces.
         The Board of Directors of this organization includes Generals Carlos Lemus, the current Colombian Military Attache in Chile; Luis Alberto Ardila Silva, Second Army Commander; Carlos Quiroga, Army Inspector General; Colonel Enrique Torres, Commander of the VI Brigade; and Colonel Oscar Lopez, Army Chief of Integral Action.
         The victims’ lawyers denounced that on December 15, during the judicial hearing, the Seventh Specialized Prosecutor appointed to the National Human Rights Unit revealed the loss of nine notebooks in the investigation of San Jose that had been referred to as evidence.
         A statement from the Armed Forces regarding the discussion surrounding Demil will be awaited tomorrow.

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