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Cablegate: Exhumation of Sucre Extrajudicial Killing Victims

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #3724/01 2832016
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 092016Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5036
INFO RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 1152
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ OCT LIMA 6632
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 7322
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL 4622
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL

UNCLAS BOGOTA 003724

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV KJUS CO
SUBJECT: EXHUMATION OF SUCRE EXTRAJUDICIAL KILLING VICTIMS
HIGHLIGHTS CONTINUING PROBLEM

REF: A. 07 BOGOTA 7623
B. 08 BOGOTA 1443
C. 08 BOGOTA 03625
D. 08 BOGOTA 03686

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SUMMARY
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1. (C) On October 5th, we accompanied UN High Commissioner
on Human Rights (UNHCHR) Representative Javier Hernandez,
Prosecutor General's Office (Fiscalia) Human Rights Unit
director Sandra Castro, and MAPP/OAS regional officials to
the exhumation and re-burial of 8 of the 11 youths from Sucre
who were apparently murdered by military personnel in July
2007. Representatives of the Lawyers Collective and the
local chapter of the National Victims' Movement also
participated. The Fiscalia expects to soon charge the
recruiters who lured the youths into false job offers with
murder, and is also investigating members of the 11th
Brigade--several of whom are already in jail on narcotics
charges. UNHCHR officials told us they have information on
46 extrajudicial killings in Sucre and Cordoba from March
2007 to July 2008. Local victim's representative Ingrid
Vergara, currently part of the GOC's protection program, said
the situation has improved in San Onofre. She also voiced
satisfaction with her protection scheme. END SUMMARY.

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EXHUMATION AND RETURN TO TOLUVEIJO
----------------------------------

2. (C) On October 5th, international observers, including
UNHCHR, the OAS Mission in Support of the Peace Process
(MAPP/OAS) regional representatives, and the U.S. Embassy,
accompanied the families of 8 of the 11 youths from
Toluviejo, Sucre who were murdered in July 2007. The youths
had been recruited by two former paramilitary members to work
on a farm outside of the town for 700,000 pesos (350 dollars)
a month. The young men, ages 16-22, were then reported days
later as combatants killed in combat by members of the 11th
Brigade Gaulas (anti-kidnapping unit) and buried as "John
Does" in nearby cemeteries in Chinu and Since (Ref A).

3. (SBU) The bodies were exhumed and identified by family
members for proper burial. Fiscalia Human Rights unit
Director Sandra Castro and Medellin Human Rights Office chief
prosecutor William Arteago, who is prosecuting the cases,
attended the re-burial ceremony in Tuloviejo, but neither the
CTI (Technical Investigative Corps) nor the Fiscalia
participated in the exhumation, which was performed by an
international human rights group with Fiscalia authorization.
Military personnel attended the re-burial ceremony, at the
invitation of Sucre Governor Jorge Barraza Farak. Barraza
walked with the coffins through town, but left before the
ceremony.

4. (C) Castro told us the Fiscalia will soon charge the
recruiters (Robinson Eustaquio Barbosa and Jose Dionisio
Ramos Castillo) for the murders, and will also likely link
the deaths to members of the 11th Brigade. The Colombian
National Police (CNP) arrested Lt. Colonel Alvaro Zambrano
(Commander of the 11th Brigade Junin Battalion) and Major
Julio Parga (Commander of the 11th Brigade Gaula
anti-kidnapping unit) on April 16 for narcotics charges.
Both remain in jail. Ramos Castillo is cooperating with
investigators and is under Fiscalia protection.

5. (U) After the ceremony, the international observers met
with the local Human Rights Ombudsman, Oscar Herrera, the
Personeria of Toluviejo, Nasly Villadiego, and members of the
Lawyers Collective (Colectivo de Abogados) and the local
representative of the National Victim's Movement chapter. The
meeting focused on the lack of psycho-social services
provided by the GOC to the families of the victims, and the
slow progress of the investigations. The groups stressed
that there were other unmarked graves in the region that
represented more extrajudicial killings, and urged the
international community to not just focus on Toluviejo and
Soacha.

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UNHCHR NUMBERS AND THEORIES
---------------------------

6. (C) UNHCHR Regional representative Miguel Angel Sanchez

said the UN is investigating 22 cases, representing 46
victims, of alleged extrajudicial killings in Cordoba and
Sucre from March 2007-July 2008. Six demobilized
paramilitary members are among the 46 victims. 29 of them
were claimed by the military as combatants killed in combat
the same day they were reported missing. In 18 of the cases,
the victims were reportedly told they were being recruited to
join Aguilas Negras, but instead were killed and claimed as
enemies killed in combat. Of the 46 victims, 17 were
denounced by family members to the GOC. Sanchez also told us
the Fiscalia--which sent a special commission to investigate
alleged extrajudicial killings in the two departments last
December--considers over 150 deaths in Cordoba and Sucre in
2007 to be likely extrajudicial killings. Many of these
involved collusion between the 11th Brigade and criminal
groups. The Gaula attached to the 11th Brigade was
responsible for more than 50% of the murders.

7. (C) Sanchez and Hernandez noted the similarities between
the Toluviejo murders and the recent cases of young men who
disappeared in Soacha and later turned up as reported combat
deaths in Norte de Santander (Ref C). Similar cases have
also been reported in Tolima and Valle de Cauca departments.
Hernandez told us he hopes to use the Soacha and Toluviejo
cases to publicize the extrajudicial killing issue. He
acknowledged that while the numbers of reported killings seem
to have fallen over the last year--likely due to recent MOD
directives and actions to prevent them-- the GOC needs to do
more to combat this problem.

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VICTIMS VIEWS ON SAN ONOFRE
---------------------------

8. (SBU) During the visit, we also met with Ingrid Vergara,
a member of the San Onofre Victims Movement, and discussed
her security situation. Vergara had been previously
threatened by members of criminal groups in San Onofre, and
currently receives protection from the Ministry of Interior
and Justice and the CNP as part of the GOC's Protection
Program. Vergara said the situation in San Onofre is not as
tense as it has been in the past, though fear of a return of
paramilitary violence remains. She voiced satisfaction with
the protection the GOC is giving her, and said she feels
comfortable participating in human rights activities, such as
the exhumation and reburial ceremony in Toluviejo.


BROWNFIELD

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