10 soldiers implicated in the massacre of San José de Apartadó could be freed
translated by FOR staff
originally appeared in El Tiempo, 21 January 2010
Lawyers for the victims of the slaughter warned that the soldiers could be out of jail within the month.
To avoid this, first thing this morning the lawyers will ask the National Judicial Council to name a backlog judge* to expedite the trial, which has been suspended since December, due, according to the lawyers, to the delay tactics of the defense and the unexplainable loss of certain evidence.
The soldiers accused, along with members of the self-defense forces [paramilitaries], of the slaughter are Colonel Orlando Espinosa Beltrán, Major José Fernando Castaño López, Luitenant Alejandro Jaramillo Giraldo, Captian Sabarain Cruz Reina, Sargent Ángel María Padilla Petro, Sargent Jorge Humberto Milanés Vega, Sargent Henry Agudelo Guasmayan Ortega, Sargent Édgar Garciá Estupiñón, Sargent Darío Brango Agamez, and Captain Ricardo Bastidas Candia.
Criminal proceedings against the soldiers were brought on February 26, 2009 for murder of protected persons, acts of extreme cruelty, and conspiracy as part of their participation in the February 21, 2005 massacre in which eight people, including four children, were murdered.
Similarities with “false positives”
The lawyers of the victims maintain that the defense lawyer for the case of the soldiers of San José de Apartadó is the same lawyer being investigate by the National Judicial Council for the strategic delay of [detention] terms in the case of the so-called “false positives,” and that in addition he pertains to the organization called Integrated Military Defense (Demil), which despite appearing to be a private entity is headed by officers of the Armed Forces.
The governing board of this entity is made up of General Carlos Lemus, the current military attaché of Colombia in Chile; General Carlos Quiroga, Inspector General of the Army; Colonel Enrique Torres, commander of the 6th Brigade; and Colonel Oscar Lopez, Chief of Integrated Action of the Armed Forces.
The lawyers denounced that on December 15th, during a hearing of the trial, the Seventh Specialized Prosecutor assigned to the National Human Rights Unit revealed the loss of nine dossiers that had been submitted as evidence.
A statement from the Armed Forces about the accusations against Demil is expected tomorrow.
El Tiempo alerted to the expiration of [detention] terms in the case of the false positives last October.
* A second judge who takes on the remaining caseload of a first judge so that the first judge can dedicate her time to one case, thus expediting that case.