ON THE SITUATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
THE RIGHT TO LIFE /
A. General Considerations
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.” /
Likewise, the new Colombian criminal code that went into force on January
20, 1981 introduces specific provisions to guarantee and safeguard the right to
In addition, the military criminal justice code contains several
provisions referring to crimes against the right to life. /
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
on-site investigation and after it, the Commission received additional
information about these charges as well as others referring to this same right.
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.
Case 4667 Arango and Pabon Vega
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. /
a note dated October 20, 1979, the Commission received the following claim:
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
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.
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;
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.
am attaching t this letter the documents relating to the medical opinions that
discuss the causes of death of Mr. Dario Arango.
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). /
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. /
Other Charges Concerning this Right
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
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
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.
request for information about these claims were answered by the Colombian
Government as follows:
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.
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:
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
rule shall apply to all cases currently in the statutes described in the
foregoing paragraph. /
Other Cases Investigated
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:
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. /
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. /
In connection with this case, the Government replied to the Commission in
communication No. 00144, as follows:
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.
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
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
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:
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.
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.
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.”
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:
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.
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.
The DAS judicial police agent, Carlos Julio Canizales Ovalle, was brought
into the case b means of an unshorn statement.
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.
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
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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
In connection with this same case, the Government of Colombia later
reported the following to the Commission”
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
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.
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. /
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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. /
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.
Articles 16 and 29 of the
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.
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
Joint case No. 4667.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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
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.”
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.”
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.
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
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.”
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?
Report of the Chief Inspector of the National Police, contained in
letter No. 0027 of January 15, 1981, to the Minister of national Defense.
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.”