Thursday, October 21, 2010 by Fcspp
(Translated by Emily Schmitz, a CSN Volunteer Translator. Edited by Teresa Welsh, CSN’s Volunteer Editor)
On March 28th 2007, Mr. Marcos Quintero Rivera, 44 years of age, bid his partner, the mother of his two children, goodbye as he went to work as community watchman in a Bucaramanga neighborhood. Quintero Niño and Nelson Páez, 22 and 24 years of age, are both heads of family and, just like Marquitos (as he is more affectionately referred to), hold little formal education. The men had little alternative but to unite together to guard streets in order to receive voluntary remuneration allowing them enough for basic survival.
What the three had in common, apart from fathering sons, was that they were all extremely poor and resided in below average northern neighborhoods of the Santander capital.
In hours of late evening on March 28th 2007, a few minutes before the three met to start their work day, they were violently lifted into a truck and taken to a rural area in the municipal area of El Playón. Later, their families were informed that the bodies of their friends and the fathers of their children were found dead in the morgue of the Fifth National Army Brigade. According to an official source, this signals they were killed in combat in a supposed encounter with the troops of the Gaula Fifth Brigade military.
According to the tactic mission number 23 denominated “marfil”, these people were “members of criminal gangs were either serving narcotic traffickers or were members of the Cuadrilla Claudia Isabel Escobar Jerez of the ONT-ELN.”
On that very same day the families of these three victims began a torturous journey to discover the truth and clear the names of their relatives who first went missing and were later then killed. Additionally they went to find justice in the midst of utter loneliness.
More than three years after said acts were committed, on September 6, 2010, a security-control judge imposed a security measure against the Sub-lieutenant Andrés Aranda Duran and nine other Gaula military for crimes of forced disappearance and the murder of protected persons.
October 15, 2010 marked the beginning of the accusation hearing which was brought before Dr. Silvia Carolina Parra, Second Special Circuit Penal Judge in Bucaramanga. The families had yet to overcome the loss of their loved ones and were taken aback when the prosecuted arrived in uniform, a clear gesture of arrogance and intimidation that outwardly offended the memory and dignity of the victims.
It is a surprise that the judges, in applying technical reductions, lend themselves to generate real methods of impunity, allowing the use of uniforms outside of service while engaged in judicial proceedings, especially as they are attempting to try crimes against humanity.
In this hearing the defense objected jurisdiction under the accusatory procedure. Their argument being that the natural justice who is to judge military is not the ordinary justice but rather a military tribunal covered under a legal order recorded in a tactic mission and observed in its own labor service. The position was adopted but unaware that it was a penal military judge that sent the case for competition to the ordinary judge.
The results of the defense suspended the hearing, as ordered by the trial judge in order to send the results to the Supreme Judicial Council to settle it legally. What this signifies in practice is the possibility of the freedom of all military due to expiration of terms. Now we know that, in similar cases, this process can take almost seven months to resolve itself, greatly surpassing the ninety-day period established through law 906 to initiate oral justice from written presentation of the accused due to the prosecution.
The freedom of these militaries represent a form of impunity, such as has been demonstrated before in the extrajudicial executions of a few local youth in Soacha when they were found dead in a municipality of Santander, reportedly killed in combat. The youth were also processed before a Specialized Judge in Bucaramanga, which resulted in the accused obtaining freedom because of six month delays by the Supreme Judicial Council to resolve jurisdictive objection.
By the time the sentence had been made, the capture of the accused remained impossible; they had, in other words, evaded justice. Everything seems to indicate that, in this case, the said situation can be repeated. The repetition of crimes such as these leads is frustrating only for families, but as well as for society as a whole, who have outwardly expressed the intention to collaborate in order to speed the process of justice and see that every judicial apparatus be used to prevent these crimes against humanity are invested in a prompt and timely manner.
Days before the hearing Dr. Leonardo Jaimes Marín, a lawyer representing the families, was threatened with death which stated that, in the case that these military are condemned, he or a family member will be responding, making it clear that an order exists “from above.”
Nevertheless, the Colombian State continues to neglect the implementation of their protective scheme, which was promised to be implemented under the compliance of the measures stated by the Inter-american Commission on Human Rights. This message is very telling in a context in which everything seems to indicate the continuation of reigning impunity, the worst violations of human rights are reproduced yet the least guarantee against their defense exists.
Our foundation requests that the national government and Colombian authorities take effective and sufficient measure to ensure the life and integrity of our lawyer, Leonardo Jaimes Marín.
Furthermore, we call the national government and Colombian authorities to take necessary means to guarantee the life, personal integrity and rights of the victims in this present case.
Please send the following message to Colombian Vicepresident Dr. Angelino Garzón at firstname.lastname@example.org:
The Colombian Government, led by President JUAN MANUEL SANTOS CALDERÓN, must urgently proceed with the hiring of escorts and completely implement protection of lawyer LEONARDO JAIMES MARÍN, with the purpose of protecting his life and personal integrity. The Human Rights Office of the president of the republic should be required to adopt necessary mechanisms of human rights defender protection and, in this manner, ensure their freedom to represent victims they have seen harassed for the work they do, such as was seen in this case.
Solidarity Committee Foundation with the Bogotá Political Prisoners, October 19, 2010.
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