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Cablegate: Court Finds Colonel Guilty of Jamundi Killings

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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV KJUS MARR CO
SUBJECT: COURT FINDS COLONEL GUILTY OF JAMUNDI KILLINGS

1. Summary: On February 18, the Trial Court of Cali found
Colombian military Colonel Byron Carvajal and fourteen
members of his platoon guilty of "aggravated homicide" for
the May 22, 2006 massacre of ten members of an elite
anti-narcotics police unit and an informant in Jamundi (Valle
del Cauca department). This was the first complex case tried
under the new criminal accusatory system. Sentencing will
take place on April 21, with Carvajal facing a possible
maximum sentence of 60 years. The defendants are expected to
appeal. End Summary.

2. A trial Court in Cali found Colonel Byron Carvajal and
fourteen members of his army platoon guilty of aggravated
homicide for the May 22, 2006 massacre of an elite
anti-narcotics police unit and an informant in Jamundi, Valle
de Cauca. Carvajal's platoon ambushed ten Colombian National
Police who formed an elite anti-narcotics police unit. The
unit worked closely with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). T

3. The Fiscalia presented over 50 witnesses and 600
evidentiary exhibits showing Carvajal instructed his unit to
ambush and kill the police. Over a span of 30 minutes, the
fourteen soldiers fired over 4350 rounds of ammunition and
launched six hand grenades. The defendants argued the
exchange was a legitimate gunfire exchange, since the
military unit was operating in a high risk terrorist area and
presumed the police were a terrorist group or drug
traffickers.

4. Investigators suspect Carvajal and his unit were
collaborating with narcotics traffickers in the area.
Carvajal allegedly had ties to Indio William, an associate of
Diego Leon Montoya, and was in the area when the shooting
occurred. Former paramilitary leader Ever Veloza (aka "HH")
stated in his proffer under the Justice and Peace Law process
that he met Carvajal in 1995 and collaborated with his unit
in Uraba.

5. Prosecutor General Iguaran applauded the decision and
called for the maximum sentence of 60 years. Armed Forces
Commander Freddy Padilla said the military respects the
court's decision. He praised investigators for their
impartial investigation and reiterated the military's
commitment to respecting human rights and the rule of law.

6. The trial, which lasted from December 18, 2006 to January
29, 2008, was the first significant, complex case under the
new criminal accusatory system. Under the old system, a case
with so many witnesses, evidence, and number of defense
attorneys would have lasted for years. The Colombian public
also had access to the trial process - enabling them to track
the Fiscalia's and defense team's presentations as well as
the judge's decisions. The case also showed the civilian
authorities' ability to investigate and prosecute wrongdoing
by military units.
Brownfield

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