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Cablegate: Army Captain Implicates General Fandino in San

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #3070/01 2322133
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 192133Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4248
INFO RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 0902
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ AUG LIMA 6472
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 7155
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL 4545
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL

UNCLAS BOGOTA 003070

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV KJUS CO
SUBJECT: ARMY CAPTAIN IMPLICATES GENERAL FANDINO IN SAN
JOSE DE APARTADO MASSACRE COVER-UP

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SUMMARY
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1. General Hector Fandino, former commander of the 17th
Brigade, was implicated by jailed Captain Guillermo Gordillo
in a cover-up of the February 2005 massacre of eight people,
including three children, near San Jose de Apartado.
Gordillo has pled guilty and asked for witness protection for
himself and his family in exchange for testifying against
Fandino and others involved. The Prosecutor General's office
(Fiscalia) has finished questioning 69 members of the 17th,
and decided to not pursue prosecution due to lack of
evidence. Still, Gordillo's cooperation will lead to further
arrests. Recent testimony from demobilized paramilitary
leader Ever Veloza (HH) has implicated retired General Rito
Alejo del Rio in paramilitary collaboration during as 17th
Brigade Commander from 1995 to 1997. END SUMMARY.

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GENERAL FANDINO IMPLICATED IN COVER-UP
--------------------------------------

2. Captain Guillermo Gordillo plead guilty to involvement in
the massacre of eight people, including three children, in
February, 2005, near San Jose de Apartado, and has agreed to
testify on other officers' involvement in the crime. In
exchange, Gordillo has asked the Fiscalia to include him and
his family in its witness protection program. Gordillo
testified on July 30 that in early November 2007, General
Hector Fandino, commander of the 17th Brigade at the time of
the massacre, urged him not to cooperate with the Fiscalia's
investigation or to reveal that there were joint patrols
involving the military and civilian "guides" (such as
paramilitaries) at the time. (Note: In the past, military
units frequently used "guides," who were often paramilitaries
or demobilized FARC, in combat operations.)

3. Gordillo said Fandino called him after a demobilized
paramilitary, known as "Melaza," implicated the 17th in the
massacre. He subsequently met with Fandino on November 6,
2007, in northern Bogota. Gordillo said Fandino warned him
that he might be arrested or detained in light of "Melaza's"
testimony, and reiterated his request that he not testify
about any paramilitary collaboration with the 17th Brigade.
Gordillo added that after his detention at a military
facility in Bogota for his involvement in the crime, he
received a visit from Lt. Colonel Espinosa in March of 2008.
Espinosa told him "not to worry," and urged him to keep
silent about the massacre.

4. Fandino has denied any connection to the massacre, the
cover-up, or paramilitary collaboration. He claims he has
done nothing to impede the Fiscalia's investigation. The
Fiscalia says it will likely proceed with an investigation
against Fandino. The Fiscalia completed its questioning of
69 members of the 17th Brigade on the February massacre, but
has decided not to pursue them further due to lack of
information. Still, with Gordillo's testimony, the Fiscalia
will likely detain other members of the 17th in the days
ahead.

----------------------------------------
CHARGES POSSIBLE AGAINST GENERAL DEL RIO
----------------------------------------

5. Former paramilitary leader Ever Veloza (Alias "HH")
testified in the Justice and Peace Law process that General
Rito Alejo del Rio, former commander of the 17th from
1995-1997, colluded extensively with paramilitaries in the
region. Del Rio was also named as a collaborator by
Salvatore Mancuso, a former paramilitary leader, in May 2007.
Mancuso accused Del Rio of meeting with paramilitary leaders
to plan joint operations aimed at "cleansing" Uraba of
guerrillas and forcibly displacing peasants to make land
available for African Palm projects. The testimonies of
Veloza and Mancuso have led to the discovery of mass graves
crime and other serious crimes committed in Uraba (including
Jiguamiando and Curvarado, Cacarica, and San Jose de
Apartado) during Del Rio's tenure as commander.

6. The Fiscalia has reopened its investigations against Del
Rio for his involvement in a variety of different cases,
including possible collusion in the 1997 Mapiripan massacre
in which paramilitaries flew to Mapiripan from Uraba. The
testimonies of the demobilized para leaders have been backed

by the testimony of retired Colonel Carlos Alfonso Velasquez,
who served on the command staff of the 17th Brigade under Del
Rio. Velasquez was forced to retire after making his
allegations against del Rio in 1996.

BROWNFIELD

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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