ON THE SITUATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
The Government of Colombia has answered the Commission in reference to
the situation explained in the charges by the claimants. /
of the Government’s answers in respond to these charges of mistreatment and
torture are the following:
Gerardo Ardila Serrano: “In that statement he said that he had been treated well
and had received medical care when he was suffering from malaria.
He was also given the necessary drug.
Made no mention about threats against him or against his family.”
Guillermo Céspedes Sabato or Siabatto:
“In one of the interrogation formalities he made no mention of
mistreatment although he did on the second occasion.
The judge found no cause to open a criminal investigation into this
Isabel Campos Sierra: “Noted in the interrogation record that
she had not been physically mistreated but had been subjected to psychological
pressures caused by a number of threats but afterward, the interrogators treated
her well. The Delegate procurator
General for the Military Forces conducted a penal-administrative investigation
to establish the veracity of the charges for presumed mistreatment and found no
cause to undertake criminal investigation.”
Yamel Roberto Rodríguez Salgado:
“In his unsworn statement, made no record of mistreatment or threats
against him or his family. No proof or record in the proceeding about this matter.”
Pablo Antonio Corredor Pinzón:
“In the first statement, made no record of mistreatment.
In the expansion of the statement made three months later, on May 10,
before the same judge and with his attorney, Dr. Eduardo Vásquez Chacón, made
note of Mistreatment received, both physical and psychological, without saying
who was responsible for it. No
cause was found to open a criminal investigation of this matter due to a lack of
indications or signs of violence.” /
Gladys de Marín López Jiménez: “It is noted that the
statements made by the accused person with respect to alleged charges of
violation of her sexual liberty were not made by her in her unsworn
Fernando Enrique Medina Quintero:
“The records show no sign of having been forced to confess to the
commission of acts contrary to that which he wished to state.
To the contrary, the record shows that what he said was done free of
force and without having sworn.”
José Manuel Mateus Ayala: “The file contains no records signed by the persons
interrogated about mistreatment or psychological pressure of any type.”
Luis Jaime Pérez Ramos: “His statement makes no mention of being tortured.”
Ricardo Montalvo: “In
his statement he said that he was held at the installations of the Nueva Granada
Batallion where he received good treatment and excellent food.”
Roberto Sabogal Tarazona: “His
statement makes charges of having been tortured in different ways.”
“The Delegate procurator general for the Military Forces undertook an
investigation into this matter following charges made by a committee of the
Council of Bogotá. A writ dated
July 17, 1979, ruled that the case be closed since there were no grounds for
starting a disciplinary investigation.”
Esaú Ricardo Páez Gúzman: “States that he was a victim of violence, as was his wife.
The Delegate Procurator general for the Military Forces started an
investigation into this matter following charges made by a committee of the
Council of Bogotá. A writ dated
July 17, 1979, ruled that the case be closed since there were no grounds for
starting a disciplinary investigation.”
Gloria Estella de Páez Mayorga:
“In her statement she refers to having been the victim of mistreatment,
both physical and psychological. The
Delegate Procurator General for the Military Forces undertook an investigation
of this matter following charges made by a committee of the Council of Bogotá.
A writ dated July 17, 1979, ruled that the case be closed since there
were no grounds for starting a disciplinary investigation.” /
Roberto Amaya Gaitán: On June 4 of this year, the Military
Institutes Brigade command informed the presiding officer of the oral
court-martial that this civilian had charged that he had been tortured and that
the complaint had been transferred to the Delegate Procurator General for the
Military Forces for corresponding investigation; this measure will exhaust the
disciplinary jurisdiction to establish whether the criminal law has been
Manuel Castillo Ruisceco: “In
his statement, he said that he had been tortured.
In the hearing he also made the same charges and as a result, it was
decided to communicate them to the Delegate Procurator General for the Military
Forces. The case was remitted to the Military Institutes Brigade
Command, which commissioned the fifth Military Criminal Instruction Court, for
this purpose. This court carried
out preliminary formalities since it was not informed directly of charges
against the identified person.”
Máximo Eduardo Cruz Fuentes: “Noted in the record that he was
not allowed to sleep, was assaulted and his family threatened.
In the court-martial hearing he mentioned these acts again and for this
reason the presiding officer of the court-martial transferred the charges to the
Delegate procurator General for the Armed Forces who in turn referred them to
the command of the Military Institutes Brigade.
Military criminal instruction court 5 was commissioned and is currently
undertaking preliminary formalities which have preparatory stage of the oral
court-martial, information requested by the defense attorneys was gathered and
this helped to clarify the facts.”
Adelfo Linares Pinzón: “In his statement, he said that he had been mistreated but
the examining officer did not find any signs of this being the victim of
violence and for that reason did not open a criminal proceeding.
During the preparatory stage of the court-martial, all the information
that the members of the court-martial considered necessary to demonstrate the
truth of the facts was gathered.”
José Darío Manecha Lugo: “Charged in his statement that he had been a victim of
violence but there was no accusation or specific facts that would make it
possible to open a criminal investigation.”
Jesús Emilio Ramos Gil: “In his unsworn statement he noted that
he had been mistreated by the interrogators.
In the addition to his statement made on June 15, 1979, he said that he
had been psychologically pressured. “ “Since
there were no signs of violence, the judge of the Eighth Military Criminal
Instruction Court did not consider it appropriate to open a criminal
José Omar Franklin Fajardo: “The statement notes mistreatment by the interrogators
which was repeated later at the hearing of the oral court-martial and before the
commanding officer of the Military Institutes Brigade.
The latter official referred the compliant to the Delegate procurator
General for the Military Forces through letter number 005161 of June 4, 1980,
for all appropriate purposed.”
Luis Enrique Rojas: “At
the end of the record, he noted in this statement several irregular methods
allegedly used by the interrogators to obtain his cohesion.”
Fernando Mahecha Benito: “The detained person mentioned in his statement only that
he had been blindfolded.”
Noé Linares: “This accused person confessed freely and
absolutely spontaneously as to the circumstances surrounding the type and time
of the events that tool place in Corinto and the records include no note of
Samuel Díaz: “In
his statement the accused person declared that he was mistreated shortly after
the rebel group attached the members of the army which captured them.
In the oral court-martial he stated that he had been tortured.
The commanding officer of the Military Institute Brigade informed the
Delegate Procurator general for the Military Forces of this through letter No.
005161 of June 4, 1980, so that he could undertake the respective
was stated before, case 7348 involving the M-19 and case 7375 involving the FARC
are being processed in accordance with the Commission’s rules.
As part of this process, and in connection with the government’s reply
dated October 15, 1980, relating to case 7375, the claimant has made
observations about different points of the government’s reply, among them the
matter of mistreatment and torture. These
observations were transmitted to the government by the Commission for the
appropriate purposes. The
claimant’s observations, which were forwarded to the Commission on December
22, 1980, are as follows:
connection with the observations of the Colombian government, I take the liberty
of making the following comments, point by point:
ROBERTO AMAYA GAITAN: This citizen was questioned on April 17, 1979.
However, he was captured January 23, 1979.
In other words, he was in the hands of military authorities in the
municipalities of Jacopí and Bogotá for 86 days without any charges being made
against him or being called upon to make a statement.
His family members and his attorney were not informed of his whereabouts
and he as held incommunicado for that whole time.
Colombian law says that a captured person mist be questioned within three
days of deprivation of liberty and within six days, if more than two persons are
taken under arrest in the operation. These
terms are stipulated peremptorily and may not be delayed (Article 343 of the
Criminal procedure code and Article 508 of the Military Criminal Justice Code
which limits the term to 24 hours). Consequently,
it can be stated that Roberto Amaya Gaitán was kept in virtual seclusion by the
military authorities and was the victim of at least the crime of arbitrary
Thereafter, on February 2, he was a victim of the so-called “escape
law” and was shot twice in the shoulder.
“Shot while trying to escape” is the term used in the military
reports when the intention is to eliminate an undesirable prisoner.
That is what “escape law” means.
This is unusual, if one considers the securities being taken for the
political prisoners at the military garrisons.
According to note 0170, found on pages 88, 89, 90 and 91 of file 14 of
the court-martial for the FARC, Roberto Amaya Gaitán was detained, “Accused
of being a member of the Communist party2 for 15 years, and for being president
of the electoral movement of the Yacopí Communist Party.
The attorney in the case, Colonel Faruk Yanine, has requested that he be
acquitted since no specific proof against him exists.
As for the investigation started by the Delegate Procurator General for
the Military Forces, I am afraid that this will be farce like all the other
investigations carried out by that office to determine whether violations of
human tights have been committed by military organs.
The Delegate procurator General is a military person and the
investigations are carried out by military persons, frequently of lower rank
than those being investigated.
CASTILLO RUISECO: Even though several months ago the Fifth Military Criminal
Instruction Court was commissioned to carry out the investigation of torture, to
date, this Court has not called to determine what charges have been made against
what persons, nor has it taken any measure to find out who the alleged
perpetrators are. This would be
easy to find out since it would be revealed by a simple check of which officers
were responsible for carrying out the interrogation for the judicial police
during the days that he was being held captive prior to the taking of evidence.
It is also easy to determine who signed the records of the interrogations
during which he alleged he was tortured, and who ere keeping guard on the
There is definitely a double trial in the case of Manuel Castillo Ruiseco
and quite certainly, at the end of the oral court-martial that is trying fifty
persons accused of belonging to the FARC, he will receive a double sentencing.
According to the report of the military patrol, the accused was captured
on December 12 and several weapons ere found on him. From the start, he was accused of rebellion because of the
weapons and of belonging to the FARC. Despite
these charges, he was immediately sentenced to three years of confinement for
carrying arms illegally, and at the same time indicted for rebellion and set for
trial by the oral court-martial. How
can one say, then, that this is not a double prosecution if according to
Colombian penal law, rebellion is defined as “the taking or arms…?”
(Article 139 of the penal code and 121 of the military criminal justice
code). The facts are the same and
the criminal conduct is the same since the factor of being “in arms” is a
determining factor and essential to the typical conduct of rebellion.
The other civilian’s captures with Manuel Castillo are witnesses to his
torture. None of them has been
called upon to give testimony to the Court conducting the investigation.
CORREA ALFARO: This accused person is also a victim of double prosecution.
The charges against him are the same as those against Manuel Castillo
Ruiseco. In the statement of the Eight Military Criminal Instruction
Court, no charges were made against him and he was not asked about this
participation in an alleged rebellion.
EDUARDO CRUZ PUENTES: He is also a victim of double prosecution, first, for
carrying arms illegally, a charge for which he was acquitted, and other for
rebellion with the facts being the same in both cases. The investigation that
the Fifth Military Criminal Instruction Court is supposed to have carried out is
the same as the investigation that we have been referring to and the previous
observations also apply here. It is
not rue that the claimants have been called upon to confirm their statements.
As for the evidence, it is not true that the evidence requested by the
defense attorneys has been obtained. It
can be seen in the minutes of the court-martial that substantial evidence, the
decisive evidence requested by the defense attorneys, was disallowed.
Only a minimal part of the evidence, the most formal and least important
such as the statements of good conduct, were submitted.
NELSON FONTALVO PRIETO: If he was captured on June 5, 1979 and questioned on
June 19, 1979, as the government’s reply states, then the time periods for
detention of Article 28 of the National Constitution, which set a maximum
of 10 days, were exceeded. To this
tem one cannot add the amount of time allowed for being held incommunicado
before the interrogation. However,
the most serious point is that in the case of Luis Nelson Fontalvo, there was no
government order to hold him under the terms of Article 28 of the National
Constitution. The constitutional
rule states that after the ten-day period is up, the Government must place the
person being held at the disposal of the corresponding judge, if there is cause
to do so, along with evidence against him.
“The file contains no relevant evidence, there is no holding order
issued by the government but simply an incorrectly issued judicial arrest
warrant.” (Cfé file 217, Book3), The very same thing happened to all the
other persons captured. In other
words, serious abuses occurred in the application of Article 28 involving
arbitrary arrest, prolonged lack of communication, deprivation of the right to
be defended during initial proceedings, and violation of the right of habeas
RICARDO GONZALEZ CASTRO: The same observations as made in the previous
case with respect to the lack of communication and arrest under Article 28 of
the National Constitution apply here.
GONZALEZ CASTRO: The Fifth military Criminal Instruction Court has not carried
out the legal formalities in this case. We
make the same objections as in the previous cases regarding the lack of
communication and arrest.
HERIBERTO HIGUITA DAVID: The undersigned is the attorney of this accused person.
It is absurd to say that a charge of torture in inadmissible and it is not
appropriate to open a criminal investigation. A forensic examination was requested to establish any
possible injuries but this order was systematically delayed by the examining
judge and in the end was not made.
HIGUITA is another case of double prosecution.
He was sentenced under Resolution 171 of December 20, 1978 to two years
of indicated for rebellion. Now he is being tried by oral court-martial.
The same observations as those made for Manuel Castillo Ruiseco apply
ADELIO LINARES PINSON: Many of these tortures did not leave lasting
marks. This does not make them any
less painful, however. Refusing to
have a judge investigate a criminal charge constitutes at least denial of
justice under Colombian law.
10. His real
name is HIGINIO JOSE LUNA, the accused person who charged in the court-martial
that he had been tortured at the Palanquero Air base.
Air Force Corporal PINZON ZORA took asylum and charged that persons had
been tortured at the military base during the time Higinio José Luna was held
DARIO MAHECHA LUGO: A simple comparison of the dates of his capture and his
interrogation shows that there were violations of the time periods for
incommunication and being held prior to interrogation.
The same observation that was made in the precious cases in which no
investigation was made into the charges of torture applies here.
The accused person charges that he was put in a pool of water and hit
while at the place of detention and during the interrogation.
The Government can hardly say that there were not any specific acts
MAHECHA USECHE: The same observations on terms of incommunication and on the
taking of evidence apply.
ALBERTO PEREZ MOSQUERA: Paragraph C.8 of Article 289 of the criminal procedure
code was ignored by the judicial police interrogators.
The interrogation was not accurately recorded.
The only version that exists is that of the official who took it.
But it is his version and not a verbatim transcription of what was said
by the accused person. The version
was not signed by the accused. The
staff member of the judicial police was not a real officer and did not identify
himself in the record, as the law requires (Article 303).
The report or reports of the interrogation of Luis Alberto Pérez that
exist are of anonymous origin because of the way in which they are presented.
Finally, the fact that the judicial police can perform certain
preliminary formalities does not except them from the requirements to respect
the right to a fair trial form the moment of capture, along with the obligation
of the official to appoint immediately an attorney for the accused person if the
accused does not appoint one himself (Article 431 of the criminal Procedure
Code). In jurisprudence of this
year, the Superior Court of Bogotá and the Superior Military Court itself set
down the principle that measures taken by the judicial police likewise pointed
out that, in the case of political prisoners, the absence of the defense
attorneys (systematically prevented in the preliminary formalities by military
authorities) was used to inflict torture on the persons interrogated.
The file contains several interrogations, some not dated, which were
inserted after the unsworn testimony was given when the judicial police no
longer had jurisdiction.
According to the dates provided by the Government it self, the
interrogation was conducted more than ten days after the capture.
EMILIO RAMOS GIL: The same comments made in similar cases apply here.
For the other accused persons, I have no comments to make.
As for the appeals during the court-martial, the records note that hey
have all been denied. The military
personnel have contrived the most novel idea that judicial decrees, even the
interlocutory decrees made during the oral court-marital, are not appealable. In addition, my opinion of the Government’s reply is that
the attitude it has displayed since the first charges of an attitude not
inclined toward establishing the truth, punishing those responsible and putting
an end to these practices but to hiding, to blocking the corresponding
investigations and to tolerating inhumane practices.
Chapter V gives additional information from the Government relating to
the charges discussed above.
the on-site investigation, one of the claims received by the Commission charging
mistreatment and torture referred to Commission case No. 3470, corresponding to
Carlos A Valderrama Becerra and Marta Valderrama Becerra.
This case also refers to the massive arrest of students by Colombian
The original charge was submitted on November 30, 1978.
The pertinent parts of the charge are as follows:
the month of October 1978, several student demonstrations took place in Bogotá,
Colombia, South America. On October
16 of the same year, a student was killed by gunfire from a soldier patrolling
the streets. The students rioted
because of this event and the situation degenerated as a result of several
outrageous actions, which are always committed by outside persons or others who
are not students. On October 17,
1978, at approximately 5:00 a.m., the residence of CARLOS A. VALDERRAMA BECERRA
and MARTHA VALDERRAMA BECERRA was raided by Colombian army forces. Both were
blindfolded and they were taken to unknown places.
According to information from newspapers, the two detained persons told
chilling tales of how they were tortured with electric charges, offenses and
humiliations to family members, sinister tactics to prevent sloop and to obtain
confessions in a bitter half-sleep, pricking with needles, kicks, punches,
stripping of clothing and indecent actions.
These tactics combined physical and psychological intimidation, using
means that are not only morally outrageous but are also expressly prohibited by
A. VALDERRAMA, who appeared after ten days in the yards of the Model Prison of
Bogotá related the following in a letter published in the newspaper El
Espectador of November 11, 1978, page 8: “There was a moment when they
took my hands and stuck needless underneath my fingernails but since I was
already in such bad condition, I did not remember anything else since
(illegible) and I passed out. This happened three times.
After this, they told me I was delirious because of this.”
A. VALDERRAMA is 21 years of age and is in the sixth semester of economics at
the University of Los Andes in Bogotá.
I. VALDERRAMA B., is 24 years of age, and was tortured similarly.
She appeared after 15 days in the Buen Pastor jail in a state of shock,
and unable to speak. She looked
like she had been kicked, and she also had marks on her face, especially her
nose, and her chest was all bruised. Martha
studied at Montgomery Country Community College in Rockville, Maryland.
After this, she went to Bogotá and entered the Universidad National
where she was taking courses in philosophy.
and Martha were detained along with approximately 150 individuals, among them
students and their immediate family members.
Their homes were also raided and they were taken away for no reason.
In violation of the rights of the family, even minors were detained.
Jorge Bernal, 16 year of age, was detained, blindfolded, mistreated and
not fed for eight days, as was Hugo J. Valderrama, 27 years of age.
On December 11, 1978, The Commission received additional information on
this case. The pertinent parts are
last October 17, 1978, and lasting several days, approximately 100 students of
different universities in Bogotá were taken from their homes during the early
hours of the morning. The reason
given for this was to gather information about guerrilla movements operating in
the country. These persons were
taken by military forces to their bases. They
were kept there for eight days in cold, damp cells, deprived of food and
prevented from sleeping since they were hit continuously.
In addition to this, they underwent constant interrogation in which the
cruelest and most shameful physical and psychological torture were used.
This is told below:
the start they were held incommunicado.
Their family members as well as the public at large were prevented from
knowing anything about their capture. They
were blindfolded and bound tightly and each question was accompanied by blows,
especially to the stomach, the thorax and the feet.
The blindfolds and ropes were tied tightly around their eyes and their
hands resulting in abrasions that could be seen.
This treatment grew increasingly worse since they were bewildered and
ignorant about the matters their tortures questioned them about—belonging to
subversive groups and knowing about them—and this exasperated the tortures
even more, leading them to greater rage. After
this the interrogation went as follows: blows with firearms to the head, threats
of being shot after taking them to places far from where they had been, hanging
them by their arms tied behind them and raised of the floor for a long time,
putting things into their mouths trying to produce suffocation, ducking their
heads in water for long times, stripping them and taking them out into the cold
weather at night, tying their blindfolds even tighter and as if this were not
enough, needless were stuck underneath their fingernails and in different parts
of the body, and then a liquid was rubbed into the wounds.
This made them lose the will to resist and eventually they docilely
accepted the statements. They
continued to use the electric shocks, threats of death of their family members,
in addition to vile outrages and aberrations against the honor and dignity of
the women who were stripped and who were the subjects of all types of abuses
committed my maniacs.
this time thirty students are being held. Of these, 22 are in the National Model
Prison and eight at the Buen Pastor women’s jail.
On January 30, 1979, the government sent note No. 00264 on this case to
the Commission. It reads as follows:
CARLOS ALBETO VALDERRAMA and MARTHA ISABEL VALDERRAMA were arrested on October
17, 1978, on the charge of belonging to the so-called “Pedro León Arboleda”
The Criminal investigation was started by the First Military Criminal
Instruction Court on October 20, under the terms of Decree 1923 of 1978 and the
accused gave unsworn testimony on October 22 and 23.
By interlocutory decree of October 25, 1978, the court in question issued
an arrest warrants for them for the crime of rebellion, as it did for the other
The “PEDRO LEON ARBOLEDA” group is reputed to be responsible for the
Health post, San Felipe neighborhood; Telecom offices, Estrada
neighborhood; Avianca office at Santa María del Lago, Banco Colombia, las Aguas
branch; Colsalud Center; Telecom offices, Restrepo neighborhood; Banco Comercial
Antioqueño, Calle 13 No. 39-50; National Postal Administration, Avenida 68;
Banco Popular, Ricaurte neighborhood; UPI offices; the magazine Vea;
Carulla vehicles; Banco de Occidente, Carrera 7, No. 23-54; Civil State
Registry, Calle 68, No. 16-55. The group was also charged with the murder of two national
police agents in Puente Aranda.
After their arrest, the following materials were taken from them:
Identification badge No. 19707 belonging to national police agent Pablo González,
murdered on December 10, 1976, in the Bravo Paéz neighborhood; seals from the
bank robbed, Telecom offices and the Seventh Notary, with 46 forms from that
notary office, different caliber weapons, grenades, a number of shells,
explosives, dynamite, acids, fuses, nitroglycerine, primers, books on bombs,
nerve gases in aerosol cans and 157 civilian identification papers taken from
the robbery of the registry office on calle 68 on December 28, 1977.
At his time, they are being tried in an oral court-martial for rebellion
and other crimes.
As for the charges of torture of which Mr. Carlos A. Valderrama Becerra
and Miss Martha Valderrama Becerra were the alleged victims, a criminal
investigation is now under way to establish whether these events actually
occurred and if they did who were responsible for them.
In the case that led to the request to the Commission, not all remedies
under domestic law have been exhausted.
In a communication dated February 9, 1981, the government of Colombia
remitted to the Commission additional information on this case.
This information reads as follows:
The oral court-martial that tried civilians CARLOS ALBERTO VALDERRAMA,
MARTHA ISABEL VALDERRAMA and others found the accused persons guilty.
The verdict is being appealed to the Superior Military Court.
As for the charges of torture of which CARLOS A. VALDERRAMA BECERRA and
MARTHA VALDERRAMA BECERRA were alleged victims, a criminal investigation into
this matter was started against Captains GABRIEL CHEMA BERNAL and ROBERTO MARIN
CARVAJAL. In this investigation a
ruling declared there were no grounds to convoke a court-martial to deal with
the charges made, in accordance with Article 567 of the Military Criminal
Justice Code. This Measure was
brought before the Superior Military Court for review and this court has yet to
rule on it. Consistent with the
foregoing, not all remedies under domestic jurisdiction have been exhausted. /
the on-site observation, the Commission received documents concerning the
detention of students and alleged practices of mistreatment and torture.
Included with these documents is a report contained in note No. D-1891-78
dated November 16, 1978, to the Delegate Procurator general for the judicial
Police from the Director of the Legal Medicine Institute, part of the Ministry
The conclusions of the report by the Legal Medicine Committee appointed
by the Director of the aforementioned institute are the following:
In all, 34 legal-medical examinations were made of students held at the
National Model Prison, Buen Pastor, Military Institute Brigade and the Baraya
and Ayacucho Batallions.
cannot state specifically whether this is the actual number of student’s (34)
that warranted legal-medical evaluation.
2. Of these examinations, 18 were found to have external visible lesions resulting from violence. These are the injuries that constitute the basis of this report.
It should be noted that 98% of those injured are students at the National
Most of the injuries were produced by blunt instruments but others were
found which were caused by sharp and burning instruments.
Two of the persons examined had signs of moderate psychological
disturbance and it is recommended that they undergo suitable psychological and
One women student was diagnosed as experiencing miscarriage, in view of
the anamnesis and clinical signs at the time of the examination.
The chronology of the injuries described is believed to be between five
and 15 days prior to the dates of the individual examinations (October 26,27 and
The aforementioned wounds are in the stage of normal resolution.
the on-site investigation the office of the Attorney Procurator of the
Nation turned over to the Commission a number of documents relating to the
investigations made in the case of these students.
Among these documents was a memorandum on the case involving alleged
torture, dated April 21, 1980, and signed by the Superior Judge Advocate of the
General command, part of the Ministry of National Defense.
This document reads as follows:
This concerns the capture, raid and jailing of persons belonging to the
PLA urban group, by Military Institute brigade units between October 14 and 26,
On the basis of information from the Rector of the National University to
the President, the latter requested the Procurator General to take all
appropriate steps to establish the veracity of the charges of torture of the
captured persons made by professors and students of the University.
The Office of the Procurator General ordered a preliminary investigation
by a special committee assisted by experts in legal medicine.
Its conclusions were forwarded to the delegate Procurator General for the
Military Forces for the start of the criminal investigation.
Because the commanding officer of the Military Institutes Brigade was
unable to serve, Admiral Cediel was appointed special judge and General Plazas,
the Government attorney.
After the summary proceedings were prepared and the terms expired, a
finding was handed down indicating lack of grounds to try two officers involved
in this case. The entire case was
halted, in application of the second paragraph of Article 567 of the Military
Code of Criminal Justice.
This legal measure contains an analysis of the parts of the crime of
personal injury, an examination of the validity of the statements made by the
alleged victims contrasted with those of other persons who, after being captured
and held at military installations, say the opposite, as well as the statements
made by the commanding officers of the units and especially the physicians of
each one of these units with respect to the treatment and attention of persons
The case was referred to the Superior Military Court for an appeal
ruling; in the remittance number 023 JE1a. I-ASG 789 dated March 23, 1979
contained in three books with 259, 269 and 209 pages.
this appeal the judge who wrote the appeal opinion was Lt. Col. (retired) JOSE
JOAQUIN ARDILA DIMATE and the prosecutor, Dr. ALVARO MORENO BULLA.
It should also be brought out that the two cases which outwardly appeared
to be serious and whose effects were alleged to have been produced by the
tortures, that is, the cases involving burns on the body of JOSE ORLANDO ARDILA
ARDILA and the miscarriage suffered by YANETH PATRICIA FRANCO DE ESCOBAR, were
shown to be without any merit. The
first stated that the burns occurred prior to his capture and as for the second
person, a medical committee of the Colombian Association of Scientific
Associations ruled out a miscarriage.
In this case the Rector of the National University mentions the unusual
behavior of a legal physician who was involved in the taking of a preliminary
unsworn testimony, a fact which casts doubt of his impartiality.
The office of the Procurator General was informed of this.
Most of those allegedly injured persons were tried in the recent oral
Government Investigations to Determine Responsibility for Alleged
Mistreatment and Torture
The invitation from the Colombian Government, dated April 1, 1980, to the
Commission requesting the on-site investigation says, “The Government wishes
the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to acquaint itself with the
investigations being conducted into alleged abuses of authority with respect to
During the on-site investigation, the Commission took up this
matter with authorities from different branches of the Colombian government. Its purpose was to determine the nature of the investigations
aimed at clarifying the responsibility of public agents in connection with
violations of human rights and how much progress has been made.
previous part of this chapter referred to several investigations and measures
started or taken my authorities on several charges of mistreatment and torture
processed by the Commission. /
According to the National Constitution, the Public Ministry is exercised
by the Office of the Procurator General of the nation which is also responsible
for protecting human rights and enforcing social guarantees.
It has specific powers in this area, as explained in Chapter I oft his
report in the analysis of the Constitutional Reform of 1979.
On May 6, 1980, the procurator General of the nation sent a communication to the Chairman of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in which he remitted documents and reports relating to the actions taken y his office in connection with this topic. He stated in the letter that his office was “completely at the service of the Commission to make whatever use it desires of this report and to add any other information that it deems advisable, and to place at its disposal, without any reservation, any and all documents reliant to the cases discussed in point 1 which are in these files.” /
A review of the documents turned over to the Commission shows that they
cover investigations carried out and in progress into alleged tortures by
national police personnel. These
documents were prepared from files and logs as well as the statements of
claimants, and investigations into armed forces personnel.
The documents relating to national police personnel contain 106 files on
complaints made by different persons over a period covering the years 1975 to
1980. On the basis of the
investigation, the Office of the Procurator General decides on the merits of the
claim and evaluates the facts for the purpose of requesting disciplinary
measures from competent authorities. If
the case has merit, this office brings criminal action established in the law.
Each report name of the victim, the police authority mentioned as the
perpetrator of the Office responsible for the investigation, compliance with his
decision and whether the corresponding criminal action was taken, and procedural
status of each case when the file has not closed or when criminal actions has
As concerns to the results of the investigations, a differentiation is
made between cases that have been closed and those that are still open.
There are two categories of closed cases: a) cases in which, when abuse
of authority was proving, the Office of the Procurator general requested
removal, suspension or punishment of the person responsible.
The General office of the National Police must carry out the decision of
the Public ministry and appropriate penal action is taken.
There were ten cases of this type. The
second have merit. As for cases in
progress, the following types can be distinguished: a) cases pending verdict; b)
cases pending referral so that an evaluation of the merits of the investigation
can be made; c) cases in which a special office of the procurator General has
been designated to conduct the investigation; and d) cases in which a statement
of charges has been ordered.
relating to armed forces personnel cover 107 cases with a summary of the
investigations carried out by the Office of the Delegate Procurator General for
the Military Forces stemming from charges involving basically mistreatment and
torture, and the related proceedings. In
this area the reports give on each page the name of the claimant, the name of
the accused persons, the facts, the investigation conducted and the person
responsible for the investigation (these persons are civil attorneys of the
office of the Procurator general), the evidence taken, the decision of the
claimant. The claimants include not
only the affected persons but also defense attorneys, public officials, members
or congress and high authorities of the armed forces, brigade commanders and one
director of a penitentiary establishment.
each investigation the information is given about its legal status, whether it
was closed because it was found to have no merit, or whether action has been
started against those responsible. The
findings of the investigations differentiate between cases closed and those
which are in the investigations include cases with recommendations not to take
action since they were found not to have any merit and these cases are ordered
closed. The investigations also include cases that are found to have
procedural flaws in the judicial measures.
Instructions in these cases call for them to be corrected by the
competent judicial authority. They
also include cases in which abuse by authority is proven and legal punishment is
requested for those responsible. Other
cases are those in which investigations have been conducted into detentions made
under Article 28 of the Constitution. Cases
in progress also differentiate between those in which the Office of the
Procurator general continue exercising judicial supervision over the criminal
proceedings and cases in which the criminal instructions judges are conducting
After the on-site investigation, the Colombian Government turned
over new documents relating to investigations into abuses of authority.
In January, 1981, the Procurator General of the nation turned over to the
Commission documents containing information gathered after May 5, 1980 with
respect to alleged mistreatment and torture by national police personnel.
These documents deal with five cases being processed at this time.
Three of these cases still require need a determination of their merit
and investigations by competent authorities are still being carried out in the
In January 1981, the Office of the Delegate Procurator General for the
Military Forces turned over to the Commission documents on investigations in
this area. These documents state
that this office, either on its own initiative or at the request of the
interested person, conducted 388 investigations between 1978 and 1980 concerning
military personnel for assumed mistreatment of alleged members of subversive
movements in Colombia. They also
state that 24 of these cases resulted in request for criminal investigations by
the delegate Procurator General. The
remainders of the case investigations were closed, on the orders of the Delegate
Procurator General since neither an administrative-disciplinary or criminal
investigation was warranted. /
The Delegate Procurator General for the Military Forces explained to the Commission the processing involved in an investigation and the punishment of those responsible: a) the Office of the Procurator General of the Nation receives complaints of different types, among the, abuse of authority with respect to human rights; and b) on the basis of the investigations, that office has three possible courses of action: 1) If there is sufficient merit indicating violation of the criminal law, penal action is taken before the competent judge; 2) If there is any administrative abuse, either the person responsible is punished directly or administrative-disciplinary action is taken; and 3) If the case is found to have no merit, it is closed. /
With respect to the
charges included in case No. 7348, the government has replied to requests
for information from the Commission in communications dated August 22, 1980
and January 19, 1981. As
concerns the charges relating to case No. 7375, the government replied in
communications darted October 15, 1980 and January 22, 1981.
In the Government’s
communication on the M-19 to the Commission dated August 22, 1980, it
stated: “It should be noted
that this answer took into account the data furnished by the presiding
officer of the oral court-martial although we were able to deal with only a
few aspects and no to into great detail since the summary proceedings wee
confidential and that further on, the information could be expanded by the
Honorable Inter-American Commission on Human Rights during the public stage
of the oral court-martial that will de held soon.
Now, it is enough to note that the main argument of some of the
defense attorneys is to deny what was said in the interrogations and the
initial unsworn testimony by charging that the confession was obtained
thorough violence, without stopping to think that under our criminal
procedures, a confession is not full proof and there is only a presumption
of veracity of the confession, as provided for in Article 475 of the
Military Criminal Statute, ¢as
long as there is no proof to the contrary, ¢
provided that also the corpus of the crime is fully proven.”
The government’s reply
to the Commission dated January 19, 1981, states the following:
“After seeing that the persons listed later state that they were
mistreated, information which has been obtained only through the report of
the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, this office requested, though
note No. 0058/MDODI-789 dated January 9 of this year, to request the
Delegate procurator General for the Armed Forces to look into the matter.
The claimants are the following: 1.
Manuel Acuña; 2. Edgar Alirio Avirama Avirama;
3. Marco Aníbal Avirama
Avirama; 4. Bernabé Casas; 5.
Hans Caicedo Amador; 6. Carlos
Duplat Sanjuan; 7. Néstor García Buitrago;
8. Silvio Izuierdo Barona; 9. Oscar
Fernando Marmolejo Roldán; 10. Carlos Emiro Mora Solano; 11. Luis Angel
Monroy Cruz; 12. Saúl de Jesús
Rojas Amaya; 13. Rafael
Hernando Rueda Buitrago; 14. Hernán
Silva Vélez; 15. Ernesto Sánchez
García; 16. Jose Bladimiro Valencia Cepeda; 17.
Jose Samuel Linares.”
communication of October 15, |980, stated the following:
“The foregoing notwithstanding, with respect to the charges of
torture made by several accused persons, the judge of the Fifth Military
Criminal Instructions Court is currently hearing the different facts
relating to this case in the preliminary formalities.”
In the government’s
reply of January 22, 1981, the following statements are made:
“The persons referred to in paragraph
1,3,4,5,7,8,9,10,11,12,13 and 14, who specifically stated that they
had been mistreated, also wrote to the Brigadier
General, the commanding officer of the Military Institutes Brigade,
several statements in which they brought these facts to his attention. The
commanding officer of the Military Institutes Brigade, through communication
No. 005161 of June 4, 1980, sent to the Delegate Procurator General for the
Military Forces 22 charges remitted to his command by persons who appeared
before the oral court-martial that judged the alleged members of the
so-called FARC subversive movement, which includes several of those
mentioned before. The Major
General, the Delegate procurator General for the Military Forces, considered
that the commanding officer of the Military Institutes Brigade, as the judge
of first instance, had competence to determine the truth of these facts and
remitted the charges to him, in letter No. 01346 of June 16, 1980.
In accordance with the writ issued by the commanding officer of the
Military Institutes Brigade, the Fifth Military Criminal Instruction Court
took over the charges. The court official, as part of the preliminary statement,
sent the claimants to legal medicine where forensic medicine experts were to
examine them to determine whether they had been injured either physically or
mentally. Statements have also
been received from the following persons: 1. Máximo
Eduardo Cruz Fuentes; 2. Fernando Ulloa; 3. Teodulfo
Pinzón; 4. Manfredo Rueda; 5.
Luis Eduardo Cuéllar García; 6. Luis José Lozano Laguna; 7. Rodolfo González
Castro; 8. Arnolfo Fajardo; 9.
Nunil Avila Ortiz; 10. Alvaro Vega Linares; 11. Rómulo Bustos Escarraga;
12. Noé Linares; 13. Alejandro Díaz; 14. Pedro María Benito Moreno; 15.
Ricardo Amaya Gaitán; 16. Joaquín Sánchez Linares; 17. Fernando Mahecha
Benito; 18. Samuel Díaz; 19. Eliodoro Benito; 20. José Omar Franklin
Fajardo; 21. Carlos Alberto
Linares Pérez; 33. Ricardo González Castro. It can also be added that the judge wrote to the Chief
of B2 of the Military Institute Brigade to seek information relating to what
persons had been involved in the capture and interrogation of the claimants.
As can be seen, the officer of the Military Institutes Brigade and
the judge of the Fifth Military Criminal Instruction Court acted in
accordance with law. As for
Mrs. Obdulia Prada de Torres, the Legal Medicine Institute determined that
she showed no signs of mistreatment. This
woman did not write to the commanding officer of the Military Institutes
Brigade to make a claim. Finally,
with respect to Mr. Manfredo Rueda Pinzón, following a request from his
attorney, Dr. Hermelinda Castellanos, the Delegate Procurator General for
the Military Forces undertook a disciplinary investigation and upon
completion of it, the Delegate Procurator General ruled that the case be
closed since there was no cause to continue the investigation.
The persons mentioned in this note, with the exception of Flaminio
Avila, are being tried by the oral court-martial that is now in the argument
stage. At this time the defense attorneys of all those on trial are
communication, corresponding to case 3470, was remitted to the Commission by
the Government of Colombia through note No. 86 of February 18, 1981, from
the Colombian Permanent Mission to the OAS.
The work Summary remitted
to the Procurator General of the nations by the Delegate Procurator general
for the Military Forces reads as follows:
“1. Name of claimant:
Dr. RAMSES HAKIN. Rector of the
national University. 2.
Name of accused persons: Officials and units of the Military
Institutes Brigade. 2.
The events are related to mistreatment at the Military Institut4s
Brigade. 3. The events are
related to mistreatment at the Military Institute Brigade of Several
Students of the national university who belong to the “´PEDRO LEON
ARBOLEDA” (PLA) subversive movement, in October 1978.
The Procurator General of the nation, through the Office of the
Delegate Procurator general for the Judicial Police, personally conducted
this investigation. It wads
later referred to the Delegate Procurator general for the Military Forces
who brought the pertinent criminal action before the commanding officer of
the Military Institutes Brigade—the judge of first instance.
After the investigation was completed by Assistant Judge Advocate 25,
Dr. MILLER TRUJILLO, the commanding officer of the Brigade ruled himself
ineligible before the Superior Military Court, which accepted the
impediment. Rear Admiral MIGUEL
CEDIEL NAVARRO was appointed Special Judge and Air Force Brigadier General
MARIO PLAZAS GALINDO, Special Prosecutor.
After the prosecutor’s opinion was heard, the special judge halted
the proceedings since he considered that there was not sufficient merit to
convoke an oral court-martial. It
should also be noted that unsworn statements were taken from Army Captains
GABRIEL CHEMAS and ROBERTO MARIN CARVAJAL.
The case is now under review by the Superior Military Court where the
judge who is writing the appeal opinion is Dr. JOSE JOAQUIN ARDILA DIMATE
and the Prosecutor, Dr. ALVARO MORENO BULLA, who at this time is reviewing
the case for purposes of prosecutor opinion.”
Colombian Penal Code
prescribes, in Article 279, the punishment for anyone who subjects another
person to physical or mental torture. Articles
323 to 333 set forth the punishments for those responsible for homicide and
personal injury. For its part,
the Military Criminal Justice Code, in Articles 194 to 211, sets the
penalties for those military agents who commit homicide or the crime of
personal injury. Article 166 of
the same code sets down the punishments for military personnel or public
official or employee in the service of the armed forces who commits abuses
of authority and other violations.
Chapter II of this report
on the right to life also includes a number of investigations and measures
taken by the government concerning alleged violations of this right by
Colombian public agents.
Among the documents that
the Office of the Procurator general turned over to the Commission are the
following: a) detailed description of the cases in which the Office of the
Procurator General of the nation has intervened, either through the Delegate
procurator General for the Judicial Police or through the delegate
procurator General for the Military Forces, as well as the Delegate
procurator General for the national police, on public and private charges
made with respect to alleged mistreatment of persons who were detained;
b) a copy of the cablegram circular No. 00783 –an order—dated
March 30, 1979, sent to all the brigade commanding officers b the Procurator
General instructing them to not blindfold detained persons;
c) summary of each of the charges investigated and their outcomes;
and d) a report on the number and names of the special agents of the
different Procurator general offices, of regular personnel of the delegate
Procurator General for the Military Forces who have worked on special
investigations and in supervising the military criminal cases and of the
several oral courts-martial. As
mentioned before, one of the documents sent to the Commission was circular
No. 00873, sent on March 30, 1979, by radio telegram, to Brigade Commanding
Officers in he country, which reads as follows: “In the opinion of the Procurator general of the nation,
signed by the Delegate procurator General for the Military Forces, detained
or captured persons may not at any time be blindfolded during deprivation of
liberty or when any judicial or extrajudicial action is being taken against
them. It is necessary to issue
instructions to this effect to justice, intelligence and subordinate
personnel in general at all levels of jurisdiction.
Acknowledge receipt and compliance.”
As concern the 24 cases
that resulted in criminal investigations, the Office of the Delegate
Procurator General for the Military Forces attached an outline of cases and
criminal proceedings currently under way in military judicial offices for
alleged mistreatment by military personnel in the performance of their
duties against possible subversive elements.
The summaries of these cases include deaths of persons, mistreatment
and injuries charged to military personnel.
The Office of the procurator General of the Nation has given the
following information, in addition to others, to the Commission:
“It is true that judicial investigations are being carried out in
offices of the Military penal justice system such as the Superior Military
Court, first instance and it is also obvious that statements of evidence to
the contrary have been given in some of these investigations.
This is in compliance with the rules regulating the judicial process
and in no case have any delays been found.
Delay means deliberate omission by the official of performance of his
functions. Some delays have
been found but these are attributable to the volume of cases currently being
processed by the military judicial system.