Friday November 5, 2010 14:09 Comunicaciones CJL
(Translated by Janelle R. Nodhturft, a CSN Volunteer Translator. Edited by Teresa Welsh, CSN’s Volunteer Editor.)
The soldiers charged with the homicide of Nelson Abad Ceballos Arias and minor Jessica Marcela Giraldo Quintero are unhappy with the sentence that could confine them to 25 years of prison. Nelson and Jessica were assassinated by members of the Colombian Army and dressed as guerrillas killed in battled after the army seized them from their home in front of their confused and distraught mother. These nine military soldiers of the Ingenieros Pedro Nel Ospina Battalion appealed their sentence, alleging that the inexistence of combat- a fundamental element in a sentence issued on March 31, 2009 by Circuit Court Judge in El Santuario- is nothing more than a measure meant to generate antipathy against the Army.
Sheltered by the power that authorizes them with the “right to comply” (with orders from above) and motivated by the necessity to produce positive results within the government’s policy of Democratic Security, on Sunday, July 13, 2003, the soldiers went to the Amparo Arias de Ceballos’s house, located on La Merced farm in the Granada-Antioquia municipality. They asked for Nelson, and took him along with Jessica.
The soldiers took them from their house to a school, from the school out onto a local roadway and from the roadway back to the school where they simulated combat and assassinated them. Then they forced a driver of the school vehicles to transport the bodies to the Alto del Chocó farm in the San Carlos municipality where a helicopter picked up the bodies to bring them to the Pedro Nel Ospina Batallón base in the Bello municipality. In other words, the same men who took up arms against two unarmed civilians forced another individual to do the work of moving around the bodies, constructing evidence and manipulating the crime scene.
It wasn’t because of naïveté or ignorance that Nelson and Jessica were identified as guerrilla fighters with the ELN by the then commander of the 4th Army Brigade, General Mario Montoya Uribe, and buried in a cemetery in Bello, incorrectly marked as NN [unidentified bodies]. This happened despite the fact that Jessica had her identity card on her body at the time she was assassinated. The cover up created obstacles in the search for and identification of the bodies, a process that lasted two years and required painful diligence, exhumation of the cadavers, and DNA tests.
Keeping in mind the proof and testimonies presented in front of the Penal Judge of the Circuit Court of El Santuario that focused on the crimes committed against the two individuals, the Superior Tribuanl of Antioquia “fully confirms the sentence of first degree,” closing the door of impunity that has spread itself over more than two thousand cases of extrajudicial executions in Colombia.
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