University of Minnesota

Report on the Situation of Human Rights in The Republic of Colombia, Inter-Am. C.H.R., OEA/Ser.L/V/II.53, Doc. 22 (1981).





A. General Considerations

1. The 1886 Constitution of Colombia guarantees the right to life by stating, “the authorities of the republic are established to protect the lives, honor and property of all persons residing in Colombia and to secure the fulfillment of the social obligations of the state and of individuals.” In addition the constitution states, “In no case may the lawmaker impose the death penalty.” [2]/

Likewise, the new Colombian criminal code that went into force on January 20, 1981 introduces specific provisions to guarantee and safeguard the right to life. [3]/ In addition, the military criminal justice code contains several provisions referring to crimes against the right to life. [4]/

2. Before the on-site investigation of April 1980, the Commission had received two claims referring to violations of the right to life y public agents of the government of Colombia.

During the on-site investigation and after it, the Commission received additional information about these charges as well as others referring to this same right.

3. The claims received by the Commission are being handled in accordance with its pertinent regulations. The relevant parts have been transmitted to the Government of Colombia, which has been furnishing the Commission with the information that has been requested of it.

B. Case 4667 Arango and Pabon Vega

1. The two claims were opened for appropriate processing. The claims refer to the alleged murder of Messrs. Dario Arango and Armando Pabon Vega by public agents of the Colombian Government. [5]/

2. In a note dated October 20, 1979, the Commission received the following claim:

The basic purpose of this is to denounce before that important international agency the political repression carried out in Colombia by the Government of that country through application of the ominous Security Statute against popular and trade union leaders of our country who have been tortured sufficiently to cause death, as in the case of Dario Arango of Puerto Berrio (Antioquía), or treacherously murdered as in the case of Armando Pabon Vega from Apartado (Antioquía), in addition to other leaders. This violates the fundamental clauses of the charter of the human rights defended by that organism.

We request the Organization of American states to intervene in the name of democracy to prevent the continuation of abuses against the people and their worker leaders and to request the Colombian Government to suspend application of the security Statute and to lift the state of siege under which the country has been living for more than thirty (30) years.

3. The Commission wrote to the Colombian Government on November 9 of the same year and transmitted to it the pertinent parts of the charges and requested information about them. In its reply of April 3, 1980, the Colombian Government informed the Commission of the following;

1. Military criminal judge 108 ordered the arrest of DARIO ARANGO on October 4, 1979, along with a number of other individuals who were the alleged perpetrators of the violent murder of a non-commissioned officer and six soldiers. On October 7, the accused person showed symptoms of illnesses and died moments later. By Resolution No. 305 of October 9, 1979, Dr. Alberto Torres Rodríguez was commissioned to undertake an administrative disciplinary investigation to determine the exact causes of death of town counselor Arango. On the basis of statements received and expert legal medical opinion, in particular, it was concluded that the death of Dario Arango came about as a result of cardiovascular collapse, totally unconnected with the circumstances surrounding his confinement at the military installation. The delegate procurator General for the military Forces took the report of the inspector and ordered the case closed. This decision was communicated in Note No. 12897 of November 7, 1979, to the Procurator General of the Nation.

I am attaching t this letter the documents relating to the medical opinions that discuss the causes of death of Mr. Dario Arango.

2. As for Mr. Armando Pabon Vega, the only available information about him is that he was the victim of an armed action of the FARC subversive group in Apartado (Antioquía). [6]/

4. The pertinent parts of the Government’s reply were remitted to the claimants on May 22, 1980. They were requested to make their observations and to provide any new or supplementary information with respect to their claim. To date, the Commission has not received any reply from them. [7]/

C. Other Charges Concerning this Right

1. During the on-site investigation and after it, the Commission received charges concerning violations of the right to life that point to Colombian public officials as the persons responsible for them. These claims are being processed by the Commission. The Commission has transmitted to the government the pertinent parts of these claims for appropriate purpose. Among these claims are the following:

a) Case 7348: Luis Arcesio Ramírez

The youngster Luis Ramírez was arrested an d tortured on February 5 in the presence of Caycedo and was murdered during the night of February 5 in the presence of several arrested persons.

b) Case 7547: Fabio Vasquez Villalba

The victim was arrested on April 22, 1978, and taken to the Voltigero Batallion, where he was held incommunicado, tortured and murdered. The family of the victim is being threatened by an army officer. [8]/

2. The request for information about these claims were answered by the Colombian Government as follows:

a) Luis Arcesio Ramírez (minor), appears as Luis Arcenio Ramírez, who died in combat with troops in the Chile River (Roncesvalles) on February 13, 1979. Assistant Judge Advocate 13 of the Sixth Brigade is conducting the investigation.

b) Fabio Vasquez Villalba – Military Criminal Instruction Court 32 conducted a criminal investigation into the death of Vasquez Villalba and found no military personnel involved in it. Vasquez was a guide for a military patrol in an area where subversive forces were at large and his death came about as a result of an ambush of the military patrol by unknown persons on April 27, 1978. After appropriate processing, the case was closed in accordance with provisions of Article 473 of the code of criminal procedure, the text of which is given below:

Article 473 – Closing of case. If no processed person is included in the investigation, as much additional testimony as necessary may be ordered and for as long as is considered advisable for full clarification of the events and the discovery of the persons responsible and the participants. For this latter purpose, the intervention of the judicial police may be sought. But if a year has passed since the starting date of the case, and no order has been issued to question any person due to insufficient evidence even though additional proof may be gathered to complete the investigation, the case shall be closed following a resolution with statement of reasons, without prejudice to reopening the case at a later time if proof connecting a person to the case is uncovered and the time limitation for criminal action has not expired.

This rule shall apply to all cases currently in the statutes described in the foregoing paragraph. [9]/

D. Other Cases Investigated

1. The Commission has investigated other cases relating to alleged violations of the right to life attributed to Colombian authorities. In these cases, the claims were not presented earlier for formal processing in accordance with regulatory provisions in effect. In this sense, the Commission has compiled and analyzed documents and information on the following cases:

a) Case 7348: Zambrano Torres

The Commission was informed that on February 23, 1980, Mr. Marcos Zambrano Torres died at the Pichincha Infantry Batallion in the city of Cali, Colombia. Zambrano Torres was being held there under arrest in the company of Messrs. Camilo Restrepo Valencia, Oscar Ortega Corredor and Luz Mery Bedoya Castro. All of them had been captured the previous day by a police patrol and were accused of attempting to kidnap Mrs. Raquel de Pinsky.

At the request of the Commission, the Colombian Government and agencies defending human rights in Colombia delivered to it documents and information on this case. The claim is being processed in joint case No. 7348 for alleged members of the M-19.

According to documents turned over by the delegate procurator General for the Military Forces, under the Public Ministry, on June 15, 1979, military criminal instruction court 48 decreed that Mr. Zambrano Torres, a person accused of the crime of rebellion for belonging to the subversive M-19 movement should be taken into preventive detention and he was declared a missing prisoner.

At the same time, the aforementioned document indicates that these persons were being held at the Pichincha Infantry Batallion headquartered in the city of Cali. On February 23, 1980, Mr. Zambrano died while under the custody of the Third Brigade Intelligence Group. It is added that on the same date, the Brigade Commander instructed military criminal instruction judge 107 to open an investigation into this matter. On March 14, 1980, the instruction court issued a warrant for the preventive detention of Second Lieutenant Norberto Plata Sanchez and Sargent José Rodrigo Hernández Granados, for the crime of homicide.

As a result of the foregoing, an oral court-martial was convoked to judge the persons allegedly responsible for the death of Mr. Zambrano. The members of the aforementioned military court handed down a verdict of not guilty for those accused. However, the presiding officer of the oral court-martial declared that verdict contrary to the evidence surrounding the facts, referred the case to the Superior Military Court, and requested nullification of the procedural case. This was decreed. This led to the convocations of a new oral court-martial for the accused for final determination of their responsibility. [10]/

It should also be pointed out that the other persons accused of having attempted to kidnap Mrs. Raquel de Pinsky, that is Messrs. Camilo Restrepo Valencia, Oscar Fernando Ortega Amador and Luz Mery Bedoya Acosta, were tried by an oral court-martial in which the sentence was handed down on June, 20 1980 in the war room of the Pichincha Batallion. The accused was sentenced to 12 years, eight years and eight years of imprisonment, respectively, as being members of the M-19 subversive movement. The reading of this sentence was witnessed by an attorney, an official of the Commission. [11]/

In connection with this case, the Government replied to the Commission in communication No. 00144, as follows:

CAMILO RESTREPO VALENCIA and JORGE MARCOS ZAMBRANO were detained in the company of other persons by an F-2 patrol on February 22, 1980, in Cali. After they were arrested arms, grenades and false identification papers were taken from them. The subjects were placed at the disposition of the Third Brigade at he Pichincha Battalion on the same day, February 22, 1980.

CAMILO RESTREPO V., was placed at the disposal of military criminal trial judge 48 on February 25, 1980. When he was called upon to make his statement, at his own request, the court appointed an attorney for him. An arrest warrant was issued for him on March 8, 1980 for the crimes of rebellion and the attempted kidnapping of Raquel de Pinsky. The oral court-martial was called for June 11, 1980, a verdict of guilty was handed down on July 20 and he was sentenced to 12 years of prison. On July 3, 1980, the case was appealed to the Honorable Superior Military Court.

With respect to the death of MARCOS ZAMBRANO, the Commanding Officer of the Third Brigade ordered a criminal investigation of Second Lieutenant Plata Sanchez Norberto and Sargent Rodríguez Hernández J. An oral court-martial was held for these two military personnel on July 31, with the verdict being not guilty. The verdict was declared contrary to the evidence. At this time the case is in consultation before the Honorable Superior Military Court.

b. Case 7756: Rubio Alfonso

During its on-site investigation the Commission took information concerning Mr. Humberto Rubio Alfonso, a student of the Univesidad Externado of Colombia, who has died as a result of being shot, at the time of his capture, by an agent of the judicial police on May 3, 1979, in a police operation carried out in the capital city of Colombia.

The Commission took up this case with Colombian authorities for the purpose of establishing what measures have been taken to determine the responsibility of those involved on this act. Following this, through the Office of the Procurator general of the Nation, the Colombian government turned over a summary of the investigation made into the death of the citizen, Hernando Rubio Alfonso. This document is contained in file No. 01038 of April 29, 1980, concerning 107 cases, which were sent to the Procurator general of the Nation, Dr. Guillermo González Charry, by the Delegate Procurator general for the military forces, Major General Francisco Afanador Cabrera.

The text of this summary is as follows:

1. Judicial police agent, badge No. 2363, in a written statement to military criminal trail judge 115, made on May 3, 1979, stated that according to the version given by the arrested person, Luis Alberto Arroyo Vega, on that date he was to meet at 8:00 p.m., at 57th Street and 13th Road in this city with a person called, “Jaime,” who belonged to the self-armed subversive movement, ‘PLA’ with whom Arroyo Vega had worked in several “actions.” The police agent requested an arrest warrant for that person.

2. Through the warrant, which included the statement of reasons, military criminal instruction court 115 ordered on May 3, 1979, the arrest of the aforementioned “Jaime,” and commissioned members of the judicial police attached to the Military Institutes Brigade to carry it out and issued the arrest warrant on the same date. The warrant stated that the person who was to be arrested was to be pointed out by Luis Alberto Arroyo Vega when they met on that same day at 8:00 p.m. at 57th Street and 13th Road of this city.

3. On May 4, 1979, Captain Salvador Angarita Dodino, a member of the judicial police of the Military Institutes Brigade, DAS agent, Carlos Julio Canizares Ovalle and the arrested man, Luis Alberto Arroyo Vega, went the previous night at approximately 8:00 p.m. to 57th Street and 13 Road of this city and being there, Mr. Arroyo Vega personally pointed out the man who called himself “Jaime.” At his point agent Canizalez told “Jaime” he was under arrest but the aforementioned person immediately attempted to assault him and for this reason the officer had to subdue him. At his point, “Jaime” hurled himself against the judicial police agent, resulting in a struggle at the end of which a shot rang out, resulting in injury of “Jaime,” who immediately was taken to the central Military Hospital where he arrived at 8:15 p.m. he was pronounced dead at 8:20p.m. It was noted that he had a wound produced by a firearm in the frontal region of the upper body, approximately between the sixth and seventh ribs.”

4. Based on the foregoing information, on the same day, May 4, 1979, court 115 opened a criminal investigation and carried out the following activities, in addition to others:

a. Luis Alberto Arroyo Vega was head in testimony on May 4, 1979, and he said there, in addition to other things, that on the previous day at 8:00 p.m. at 57th Street and 13th Road of this city, he had an engagement with a person who was called “Jaime,” whom he pointed out and that “Jaime” put up resistance. He also said that “Jaime” had engaged in subversive activities.

b. María del Carmen Alfonso de Rubio, Marco Aurelio Rubio Bautista, Arturo Quiroga, Gustavo Mantilla, Claudio Castillo, Salvador Angarita, Horacio Urquijo, Arcesio Joven, Alvaro Ceron, Alicia Riveros, Teodoro Villamizar also made statements in the investigation.

c. The DAS judicial police agent, Carlos Julio Canizales Ovalle, was brought into the case b means of an unshorn statement.

d. The formalities taken in this case were the judicial inspection, the reconstruction of the events, the note of removal of the cadaver, the autopsy protocol and the civil death certificate.

e. In the opinion of the senior Judge advocate of the Military Institute Brigade dated August 27, 1979, there was sufficient merit in the case to convoke the oral court-martial to judge the behavior of the DAS agent, Carlos Julio Canizalez Ovalle.

f. The Commanding Officer of the Military Institutes Brigade, in a ruling on December 7, 1979, declared that there was insufficient evidence to convoke the oral court-martial that was to judge the DAS agent, Carlos Julio Canizalez Ovalle, for the death of Marco Hernando Rubio Alfonso, and ordered the halt of all criminal proceedings and referral of the decision for consultation.

g. The case in now in the Office of Prosecutor 10 of the Superior Military Court, where it has been since March 21, 1980, and a ruling is being awaited.

5. It should be noted that criminal instruction court 45 initially started an investigation into the same events by later remitted this work to the military courts since they had competence in this matter.

Furthermore, the Attorney General of the Nation turned over to the Commission a report on the investigation to establish background and causes in connection with the death of the student Hernando Rubio Alfonso. This report was contained in a note sent to the Delegate Procurator General for the judicial police on May 25, 1979, by the visiting attorneys responsible for the investigation. The text of this document contains, in addition to others, the following points:

Based on the foregoing, we believe that Mr. Hernando Rubio Alfonso was an ordinary person who on the day of the events was engaged in his normal activities. He went to the Universidad Externado of Colombia in the morning and to INTRA in the evening, to carry out his regular work. He left INTRA at the normal time and from there on, nothing more was known of him until the time he was taken dead, by members of the B.2, to the military hospital. It can be easily concluded, then, that these men are the only persons who can and who must respond for the death of Hernando Rubio Alfonso.

Since it appears that these persons are members of the B.2, which is part of the intelligence group of the Military Institutes Brigade, kindly, Mr. Procurator General, act in the manner that you deem advisable.

We also inform you that at this time the pertinent investigation into this case is under way in the military penal instruction court 115 and criminal trial court 45. [12]/

In connection with this same case, the Government of Colombia later reported the following to the Commission”

The Investigation was started by criminal trial court 81 on May 19, 1979, in the city of Bogotá, and continued by criminal trial court 45, which considered it on June 11, 1979, after evidence had been gathered. By area of competence, the investigation was the responsibility of the Commanding Officer of the Military Institutes Brigade. The Commanding Officer transferred the case to the senior judge advocate that decided that the accused person Canizalez should appear before an oral court-martial as responsible for the culpable crime upon the person of Hernando Rubio Alfonso.

The court of first instance, in a statement dated December 8, 1979, declared that there was not sufficient merit in the case to judge the accused in accordance with the oral court-marital procedure and as a result, he ordered the entire proceedings halted. In an appeal to the Superior Court on December 13, 1979, the case was ordered returned to the office of origin (January 21, 1980), in consideration of the fact that the notification to the parties had not been legal. After this the irregularity was corrected, the case was transferred to prosecutor 10 who issued a decision to the effect that the measure calling for a halt to the entire proceeding should be confirmed. As of May 13, 1981, the judge, Dr. Gersain Serna Giraldo, who writes the opinions, has had the draft of the finding ready for submission to the decision section.

c) Case 7757: Camelo Forero

The Commission acquainted itself with the case of Mr. José Vicente Camelo Forero, who died while being held at the installations of the Colombian Air Force at Palanquero on July 5, 1979. Camelo Forero had been captured by military authorities on July 1, in the area of Mariquita, Tolima. The Colombian press made this case public on the basis of information and declarations provided by Corporal German Pinzon Zora who stated that Mr. Camelo Forero had been tortured. Pinzon Zora later took asylum at the Embassy of Costa Rica. Military authorities stated that the aforementioned non-commissioned officer had been discharged from the military forces by resolution on a disciplinary court whose verdict was confirmed on appeal. The authorities said that his discharge was the result of a hearing that looked into serious misconduct on the part of the corporal while in military service. They also said that the statements and information he gave to the press did not jibe with the truth surrounding the events.

In taking up this case, the Commission requested Colombian authorities to furnish all possible information both during the on-site investigation and after it. The Government turned over several documents about the case to the Commission. [13]/

In the part on procedures contained in the report of the inspector attorney appointed to investigate the case, the following is stated: “Since this is an attempt to establish the truth regarding the matters published in the magazine, Alternative, using information given by Corporal German Pinzon Zora, currently in asylum at the Costa Rican Embassy, because, according to him, he is being chased by the state secret services for having given information to the newspaper, El Bogotano, concerning the death of José Vicente Camelo Forero, the investigation was oriented in such a way as to take into account the statements made by the corporal.” Among the report’s conclusions are the following:

a) It was established that Corporal German Pinzon Zora, a specialist in meteorology, is not a non-commissioned officer who has been persecuted, but a person who failed to conduct himself properly during his air force service, as can be seen in his biographical file. His conduct was so bad that in his own deposition dated July 18, 1979, which he himself signed, he stated that he agreed with the punishment given to him because he made deliberated mistakes to reflect badly on the Colombian air force and that what he really wanted was to provide grounds to the Air Force to all a disciplinary tribunal against him.

g) Corporal Pinzon Zora could not have been selected a member of any group of “torturers” as he said, first, because it has been established that the base had no such group and second, because the corporal’s specialty was meteorology and he remained working in that specialty throughout the entire time he served as a non-commissioned officer, as his personal file shows.

h) According to declarations of personnel not associated with the investigation, José Vicente Camelo Forero was never tortured; the number of soldiers on guard the night he died was not ten, but four and of those, the soldier Juan José Mendez Castro was the person who acted directly and who killed Camelo after having tried to subject him so that he could not escape; the soldier Hector Morato Ríos ran to the control officer to tell him what was happening; and the soldiers Florencio Vanegas Tellez and Jairo Vargas Hernández kept the rest of the prisoners in the facility under guard.

i) Furthermore, the eye which Corporal Pinzon says that Camelo lost because of the blows he received was actually a false glass eye, which he had used for 34 years and which naturally was removed from his body when he died. It is also a lie that the death of Camelo occurred at 9:00 p.m. on the banks of the Magdalena River. In fact, this event took place on the morning of July 5, 1979, at 1:40 a.m. in the prisoner’s area of the base. C.C. No. 2341727 on Camelo shows a notation of a glass right eye.

k) The case concerning the death of José Vicente Camelo Forero in which the soldier Juan José Mendez Castro is accused of the crime of homicide is now before the Superior Military Court, for all matters within its competence.

n) In connection with the statements made by Corporal Pinzon about tortures of prisoners and José Vicente Camelo Forero. In particular, other statements and documents indicate there were no such tortures that the statements and documents indicate there were no such tortures, that the statements are false and that the information given by the corporal is possible biased.

r) Two cases are involved in the investigation into the death of José Vicente Camelo, one started at Puerto Salgar by military criminal trial judge 46 and the other started by criminal trial judge 1 at Mariquita. Both of these cases were combined in view of considerations of competence and the case I s currently before the Superior Military Court, for all matters within its competence.

Likewise, the Commission received documents about this case from persons associated with family members of Mr. José Vicente Camelo Forero. [14]/

d) Case 7758: Contador

On April 13, 1978, the police raided the house located at Transversal 31, No. 136-67, in the neighborhood known as Contador, in the city of Bogotá. In this raid seven persons were left head at the hands of public agents.

During the on-site investigation, the Commission acquainted itself with this case and sought information that would enable it to find out about the investigation and the measures adopted by Colombian authorities to date with respect to these events.

In January 1981, the government provided the Commission with the following report:


After the death of JESÚS ANTONIO CÁRDENAS TRIGUEROS (alias, the Yanki), a review of documents yielded certain addresses and telephone numbers. Among them was No. 581016, the telephone number of the address, Transversal 31, No. 136-67. A permanent watch was ordered for that house. The watch revealed that suspicious persons went to that residence at late hours of the night, using different vehicles. One of the vehicles marched the description of that used in the kidnapping of Dr. MIGUEL DEL GERMAN RIBON. Base on this information a request was made to Military Criminal Trial Judge 77 to issue a search and seizure warrant or the aforementioned residence. This request was approved. The secret personnel involved in the raid were the following officers: Major Castano Rozo, Carlos Julio; Captain Patarrovo Barbosa, Jaime; Captain Barreto Rodríguez, Jorge Noel; Captain Mendoza Contreras, Alvaro; Lieutenant Bravo Sarmiento, Manuel Antonio; Corporal Martin Moreno, Arturo; and Agents Alarcón Toro, Joel de Jesús; Domíngues Leyton, Joaquín; Morales Cárdenas, Efraín; Ospina Ríos, Gustavo; Quiroga Jaime and Baquero José de los Santos. These individuals carried out the court order and kept watch On the place in order to arrest the alleged kidnappers. It was approximately 12:30 a.m. when several persons arrived at the residence. When told they were under arrest, these persons did not surrender and decided to open fire on the members of the F-2. The F-2 returned the fire, resulting in the deaths of the following persons: MARÍA FANNY SUAREZ DE GUERRERO, BLANCA IDALY FLOREZ VANEGAS, EDUARDO SABINO LLOREDA, ALVARO ENRIQUE VALLEJO QUIÑONEZ, JUAN BAUTISTA ORTIZ RUIZ, JORGE ENRIQUE SALCEDO AND OMAR REYES LEYTON.


The following elements were seized during this operation and placed at the disposal of military criminal instruction judge 77:

M-1 carbine, No. 344996, Smith & Wesson revolver, caliber 32 long; Smith and Wesson revolver, caliber 38 long, No. 615881 and Smith and Wesson pistol, caliber 9 mm., No. 387816.

Renault 12 automobile, model 77, carrot colored, license plate FB-1142, stolen from Jaime Alberto Muñoz González during an armed holdup; Renault 12 automobile, model 77, white, license plate AL-0296, stolen from Rosalba Diaz de Giraldo during an armed robbery; a Renault 12 pickup truck, model 1975, cherry color, license plate AF-4692, owned by Fanny Saurez de Guerrero, Kawasaki motorcycle, 1978 model, red color license plate DM-7927, stolen from Rodolfo Silva Luna.


The Delegate procurator General for the National Police ordered a prompt investigation into these events. On the basis of the evidence seized in a ruling dated May 8, 1980, he decoded to remove from office Captains JAIME ALBERTO PATARROYO BARBOSA, JORGE NOEL BARRETO RODRÍGUEZ, ALVARO MENDOZA CONTRERAS, LT. MANUEL ANTONIO BRAVO SARMIENTO, CP. ARTURO MARTIN MORENO and Agents JOEL DE JESÚS ALRCON TORO, JOSÉ JOAQUÍN GUILLERMO DOMÍNGUES LEYTON, JAIME QUIROGA, GUSTAVO OSPINA RÍOS, EFRAÍN MORALES CARADENAS and JOSÉ SANTOS BAQUERO, because in this opinion the accused persons disregarded the guarantee of the inviolability of the domicile and used excessive force and unjustifiably deprived the victims of their lives. These errors are defined in the disciplinary rules in force at the time of those events. He also ordered that a copy of the disciplinary case be sent to the Superior Military Court for placement in case No. 1729 relating to the same events, which is being investigated by that court.


In furtherance of the instructions of the military court, the police officials were placed under arrest. The time period for the case was extended and after hearing the opinion of the legal advisor, a resolution was issued ordering that an oral court-martial be held to judge the conduct of those accused of the crimes of homicide, committed together and violation of domicile.

The presiding officer of the court-martial set December 17, 1980, as the starting date of the hearings. The court-martial ended on December 30 of the same year. The verdict on the 81-indictment put to the jury was a unanimous finding of non-responsibility for the crime. At this time, the case is awaiting a final ruling from presiding officer of the court-martial. [15]/

In addition, it should be noted that the Government of Colombia reported to the Commission that when these events took place, the office in charge proceeded immediately to make a detailed investigation of the case and reached a conclusion that several F-2 agents were culpable. These agents were discharged. As for the criminal case, it was reported that it is now under the military criminal justice system, through an oral court-martial and, subsequently, the matter was referred to the Superior Court level where it has been pending since March 6, 1981, in the office of the Third Prosecutor.

However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs turned over to the Commission documents indicating that two types of investigations have been conducted into this case. One, an administrative investigation carried out by the delegate Procurator general for the national Police, ended as stated above with the removal of the agents in the group that participated in that police operation. The other, a criminal investigation, also discussed above, involved the convocation of an oral court-martial which had the outcome noted above.

The documents also indicate that the trial of the police agents was carried out in conformity with the Code of Military criminal Justice. [16]/


[1] The American convention on Human Rights, Article 5, which officially recognizes the right to life, establishes the following in its paragraph No. 1: “Every person has the right to have his life respected. This right shall be protected by law and, in general, from the moment of conception. No one shall be arbitrary deprived of his life.” The remaining paragraphs of this article deal with capital punishment.

[2] Articles 16 and 29 of the Political Constitution.

[3] New Criminal Code, title XIII on crimes against life and personal security, which has four chapters regulating homicide, personal injuries, abortion and abandonment of minor and invalids, respectively, Articles 323 to 348, inclusive.

[4] Military Criminal Justice Code, title VII in crimes against life and personal security, which has five chapters on classification, homicide, personal injury and dueling, and the provisions common to the previous chapters, respectively, Articles 193 to 215, inclusive.

[5] Joint case No. 4667.

[6] A press release datelined Bogotá, September 21, 1979, of the Permanent Committee for the Defense of Human Rights, says the following about the death of Mr. Armando Pabon Vega: “On Wednesday, September 19, at 6:30 p.m., the trade union leader, Armando Pabon Vega, 30 years of age, was shot (five times) in Apartado as he was leaving the offices of the Banana Industry Workers Union where he was a leader. At the time of his murder, he was preparing a list of petitions for banana workers. Pabon was moved immediately at FEDETA headquarters. He will be buried Saturday at 4:00 p.m. The Antioquía Departmental Committee for the defense of Human Rights joins with the national Committee in making its most vigorous protest for this crime against Armando Pabon Vega, a member of the Communist party and a much-loved trade union leader.”

[7] With respect to the investigation made to establish the causes of death of Mr. Dario Arango, the Government of Colombia turned over to the Commission a number of documents, including note No. 636 of October 19, 1979, to Judge 108 of the military criminal instruction court of Medellín from the Chief of the sectional Legal Medicine Institute of that city. This institute is part of the Ministry of Justice. Another of these documents was the opinion of the chief physicians of the La Cruz Hospital of Puerto Berrio. The conclusion drawn from these documents is that the demise of Mr. Arango was due not to violence but to cardiovascular collapse.

[8] The claim for Luis Arcenio Ramírez is dated April 25, 1980 and is combined with the case of Hans Caycedo Amador in the joint case No. 7348 for the M-19. This claim was transmitted to the Colombian government from the Commission on November 3, 1980. The claim concerning Fabio Vasquez Villalba is dated April 25, 1980, and was transmitted to the government as an individual case in a note dated November 17, 1980.

[9] Government notes to the Commission dated January 19, 1981 and February 6, 1981. The pertinent parts of the government’s reply were transmitted to the claimants by the Commission, in accordance with its rules.

[10] In this case, the Commission has the opinion of the senior judge Advocate, dated July 22, 1980, to the Commander of the Third Brigade, headquartered in Cali. This reads as follows: “From the evidence contained in written documents, we see that on February 23, of this year, at the installations of the Pichincha Battalion the civilian, Jorge Marcos Torres died as a result of ‘severe anoxia of an etiology under study,’ and according to the most likely diagnosis of the cause of his death, it was ‘asphyxia by submersion in water resulting in deprivation of oxygen and severe anoxia, the result of which could be the pulmonary edema observed,’ according to the forensic medical opinion. This death occurred when Jorge Marcos Zambrano was under the direct responsibility of Second Lieutenant Norberto Plata Sanchez and Sargent José Rodrigo Hernández Granados, who were interrogating him at the time. The conduct of the accused persons Plata Sanchez and Hernández Granados is described in Book Two, Title VII, Chapter II of the Military Criminal Justice Code, and for this reason there is sufficient merit to determine, through the procedure of the oral court-martial that is established in Chapter II, Title VI, Book Four of the aforementioned code, to determine their criminal responsibility in the present case.” On July 23, 1980, the Commanding Officer of the Third Brigade issued Resolution No. 073 which convoked an oral court-martial to be heard at the Cali Garrison to try the accused military persons in accordance with the procedure established persons in accordance with the procedure established in the military criminal justice code. Furthermore, the Commission has on hand the resolution of August 16, 1980, of the presiding officer of the court-martial which states the following: “To declare clearly contrary to the evidence of the facts the verdict of the jury handed down in the present oral court-martial.” The conclusions of the resolution point out, “…the presiding officer concludes that the verdict of acquittal is contrary to the evidence in the case, that is, the evidence brought to light in the matter is sufficient to form a well-founded decision and therefore, this should be so declared.” In addition to other points, it makes the following: “Bearing in mind all the foregoing, we have then sufficiently proven the following” evidence of presence, since the accused persons were up to the last minute present at the place of the events in which the individual Jorge Marcos Zambrano fell dead. Evidence of prior statements: one of which is having stated to the accused that they were going to take him to La Remonta, knowing perfectly well the general, notorious reputation that place has. That is the so-called oral threat. Evidence of understanding. Since the accused state in their declaration and in the statement of reconstruction of events their full agreement to take the arrested person to La Remonta. However, the accused Hernández, José Rodrigo, in his statement, affirms categorically that they in no way intended, and has not agreed, to take the arrested person to La Remonta and they said in the reconstruction of events that if there was any such agreement, it was merely with the intention to scare the prisoner psychologically, thereby establishing evidence of poor justification. Evidence of later signs: such as the concealment of the name of the victim, the statements circumstances and facts presented to the agent in the departmental hospital, emergency section, which do nor correspond to the truth. Evidence of a material nature: this evidence is that the clothing of the murdered person, Jorge Marcos Zambrano, was wet, as determined by the agent who accepted the lifeless body and who noted this fact in his statement. Other was the superficial laceration on the left knee of the victim and the extensive hematoma on the cadaver of Jorge Marcos Zambrano, specifically, in the hairy skin of the frontal region of the head. Evidence of motive: this is none other than the situation of intimidation that was of motive: this is none other than the situation of intimidation that was attempted by the fact of taking him to La Remonta, on the initiative of the accused persons themselves, and to use this as an effective way to produce fear and to lose self-control and thereby obtain positive results. Evidence of intellectual capacity and personal opportunity: this is the capacity and the physical disposition required for the action by the accused persons such as there being two persons against one and those two persons being armed during the questioning.

All of this taken together with the statements made by the witness, Camilo Restrepo, a fellow prisoner of Jorge Marcos Zambrano, which he made with respect to the interrogation in a pool, submergence in it and the drowning attempts, the forensic medicine opinion that rules out an infarct and the cause of death necessarily lead to the conclusion that there was the real intention of responsibility in the events charged to the accused persons. This is the conclusion in view of the fact that the circumstances of the event and the evidence given above are precise and consistent.”

[11] II. Case No 7348, opened by the Commission, which involves a multiple case referring the M-19, includes the charge made on April 23, 1980, with respect to Mr. Camilo Restrepo Valencia. This charge was transmitted to the Colombian Government on November 3, 1980. At the end of that statement, the following is said: “A comrade (Zambrano) was arrested at the same time and torture, and later murdered during his detention.”

[12] On May 29, 1979, in consideration of the foregoing facts, the Procurator general of the Nation wrote to the Delegate Procurator General for the military forces in connection with this case, as follows: “Enclosed please find the file containing the records of information gathered by the judicial police in connection with the death of the student Hernando Rubio Alfonso, and kindly turn them over to the trial judge for all the effects of this case and for carrying out a special judicial examination of the progress on this case.

[13] Through the office of the Procurator General of the nation and the Ministry of Defense, the government turned over to the commission the following documents: a) Note from Combat Air Command No. 1 of Puerto Salgar, dated July 5, 1979: b) Report of the commanding officer of that command, July 11, 1979; c) a note form the commanding officer of the Colombian Air Force date July 30, 1979; d) A report on administrative-disciplinary investigation No. 290830R to the delegate Procurator General for the Armed Forces, by the inspector attorney, dated January 29, 1980; e) Formal procedures conducted by the office of the Delegate Procurator general for the armed forces, dated January 29, 1980; f) Note 00270 from Delegate Procurator General for the Armed forces to the commanding officer of the Colombian air Force, dated January 31, 1980; g) Note from the commanding officer of the Colombian Air Force dated February 17, 1980; h) List of special inspection visits regarding the case, sent by the Delegate procurator general for the Armed Forces to the Procurator General of the Nation in Note No. 01050, dated April 30, 1980. In the letter from the commanding officer of the Colombian Air Force, dated July 30, 1979, the following is stated: “1. The Aforementioned individual was taken prisoner in the Village of Mariquita, Tolina, for alleged ties with the urban network of the FARC; several arms and ammunition of different caliber’s, found in his residence, were confiscated. 2. Camelo Forero was imprisoned in the aforementioned unit in a place for person’s accused of violating the criminal law, where both he and other prisoners enjoyed and still enjoy full legal guarantees. 3. On July 5, the aforementioned citizen attempted to escape twice from the jail. For this reason, the guard told him to stop his attempts. In response to this, Camelo Forero attacked the guard and tried to take his weapon away from him. For this reason, the soldier was forced to use the weapon, mortally wounding the aggressor. R. After the death of José Vicente Camelo Forero, military criminal instruction judge 46 called immediately for an investigation, an examination of the cadaver, the respective autopsy and all other steps under the rules of criminal procedure. 5. Consistent with the foregoing, this command reports that the version given by certain communications media about the events that led to the death of Camelo Forero have no foundation in fact; the same is true of the statements being made about tortures by informed personnel.” In another letter from the same air force commander, dated February 7, 1980, the following is stated: “You are reminded that on the occasion of the death of Mr. José Vicente Camelo Forero (QEPD), military criminal instruction judge 46 initiated the corresponding criminal investigation immediately after the occurrence of the events. The person accused in this investigation is the soldier, Juan José Mendez Castro, whom the corporal called a “softie.” It was established that Mendez Castro belonged to the First Contingent of 1978, which will no be discharged until April of this year and therefore 3what the non-commissioned officer said not true.”

[14] On April 20, 1980, the attorney of the widow of Mr. José Vicente Camelo Forero sent a letter –which is also signed by the widow—to the President of the Republic. The letter protests the Chief Executive’s confusion over her name in an incident in which she was referred to as the mother of Mr. Alfredo Camelo Franco, indicated and tried as one of the murderers of former minister Rafael Pardo Buelvas. The confusion came about is a speech that the Colombian President delivered in April 1980, when the Embassy of the Dominican Republic in Bogotá was taken and the report of Amnesty International was published. President Turbay Ayala recognized the error and apologized for having made it in a reply to the widow of Mr. Camelo on the following day. The letter reads as follows: “Mrs. Elpidia Cáceres de Camelo (widow) My dear lady: This is to acknowledge receipt of your letter dated April 20 on which you, quite correctly protest the mistake I made when I referred to you as the mother of Alfredo Camelo, one of the perpetrators of the assassination of Minister Pardo Buelvas. This statement was made on the basis of information provided to me by my assistants who, in good faith, believed that the relationship mentioned exited between you and Alfredo Camelo. For myself, and since it was not my intention to bother you or to use your name for any ulterior motive, I have no problem whatsoever in telling you that I am mortified by the unintentional mistake I made and I offer to you my fullest apologies. (signed) Julio César Turbay.: The letter from Mrs. Camelo’s attorney to the Chief Executive states, inter alia: “With great attention we listened to your speech on the problem of the Dominican Embassy and your forceful ides in your official reply to the reported recommendations of Amnesty International. We will not go into any analysis of the content of those statements but obviously we cannot agree with it in its entirety although we respect your statements since they are made by the Chief of State. We simply wish to tell you, Mr. President, that you are extremely ill informed about several points and more than likely you did not have enough time before you spoke to verify the false information that your advisors furnished to you. Specifically, we refer to what you said when you mentioned and listed the persons and agencies that the delegates of Amnesty International met with. These unmistakable words are on a tape in our possession and these were also published by all the communications media of the country. You said, Mr. President, verbatim: “…with MRS. ELPIDIA CÁCERES DE CAMELO, A WIDOW, THE MOTHER OF ALFREDO CAMELO FRANCO, ONE OF THE PERPETRATORS OF THE ASSASSINATION OF FORMER MINISTER RAFAEL PARDO BUELVAS…” Naturally, Mr. President, unbeknownst to your immediate collaborators or, if they are aware of it, they are hiding this from you, the facts are as follows: Mrs. ELPIDIA CÁCERES DE CAMELO, widow, to whom you refer in your speech, is no the mother of ALFREDO CAMELO FRANCO. She is the wife of Mr. VICENTE CAMELO, a cattleman of Mariquita who was murdered at the Palenquero Military installation. Mrs. Cáceres has only one male child and his name is ENRIQUE CAMELO CÁCERES who is a university student, has never worked at El Siglo and had nothing to do with the death of former Minister Pardo Buelvas. We, that is Mrs. Cáceres, the widow of the late José Vicente Camelo, and I as her attorney, met with the delegates of Amnesty International strictly and exclusively for the purpose of informing them in detail of the case of Mr. Camelo, that is, of the undeniable tortures of José Vicente Camelo after being arrested at his home in Mariquita and taken to the air force installation at Palanquero. These tortures were noted in the exhumation records held by the examining judge and the forensic legal physician of Armero, s was the cause of death which was ‘cardiorespiratory stoppage caused by two rifle bullets in the back.’ As a result, our interview with the representatives of Amnesty International had nothing to do with Mr. Camelo Franco or with the death of the former Minister Pardo Buelvas but with the death of José Vicente Camelo. The investigation into this case is still being conducted by the military criminal justice system which up to now has yielded results pointing to complete absence of guilt. Why do your immediate assistants, Mr. President, hide the true identity of Mrs. Cáceres and why have they not informed her about the investigation into the murder of her husband, Mr. José Vicente Camelo, in which not even one single person has been arrested? Why, when the alleged criminals in a investigation as important as this are military people on active service, can we civilian attorneys do nothing and why are we denied status as a civilian party? Why are we following this system of exception to normal rules of responsibility? With these events and situations being the true case, can the report of Amnesty International be mistaken and biased?

[15] Report of the Chief Inspector of the National Police, contained in letter No. 0027 of January 15, 1981, to the Minister of national Defense.

[16] Article 284 of the Code of Military Criminal Justice reads: “For the effects of this code, the term ‘military personnel’ refers to members of the police forces, with the exceptions noted in chapter IV, Title IV, Book II”; and Article 8 of Decree No. 2347 of 1971 which reads: “Officers, non-commissioned officers and agents of the national police force who, during their service or as a result of it or functions inherent in their position, commit a crime, shall be tried under the rules of the Code of Military Criminal Justice.”


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