Cablegate: Fiscalia Issues Preventive Detention Orders In

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

id: 20794
date: 9/20/2004 22:44
refid: 04BOGOTA9526
origin: Embassy Bogota
classification: SECRET//NOFORN
destination: 04BOGOTA7901
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

----------------- header ends ----------------

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 BOGOTA 009526




E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/20/2014


B. BOGOTA 8193

Classified By: Charge d'Affaires Milton K. Drucker for
reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).


1. (S/NF) On September 16, the Office of the Prosecutor
General ("Fiscalia") issued preventive detention orders
against one officer, two enlisted men, and a civilian
informant in the ongoing investigation of the killing of
three trade unionists on August 5. The three soldiers had
been in Fiscalia custody since September 7, following a
preliminary investigation that led officials to conclude the
deceased labor leaders were executed, rather than killed in a
firefight as the soldiers had claimed. A reinserted National
Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla who acted as an informant in
the case was taken into custody on September 11. It appears
that the trials of all four will take place in civilian
court. The three soldiers were part of a vetted cavalry
squadron in Saravena, Arauca Department, attached to the
Colombian Army's (COLAR) 18th Brigade. The Ministry of
Defense believes all three of the accused received some form
of instruction from U.S. Special Forces trainers. Because
the 18th Brigade has cooperated fully with the Fiscalia's
investigation and turned over the alleged offenders, post
believes the Brigade has so far complied with Leahy Amendment
conditions. End Summary.

Three Military and Informant Detained

2. (U) On September 16, the Prosecutor General's Office
("Fiscalia") ordered the preventive detention of Lieutenant
Juan Pablo Ordonez Canon and two enlisted soldiers -- Oscar
Saul Tuta Hernandez Suarez and Jhon Alejandro Hernandez
Suarez -- assigned to the Reveiz Pizarro Cavalry Battalion
based in Saravena, Arauca Department. The cavalry battalion
is part of the Colombian Army's (COLAR) 18th Brigade, which
is headquartered in Arauca City. The Fiscalia charged the
three soldiers with murder after a forensic examination
indicated that three trade unionists -- Jorge Prieto, Leonel
Goyeneche, and Hector Alirio Martinez -- allegedly killed by
the soldiers in a firefight on the morning of August 5 (ref
A) were probably executed. In addition to reporting a
firefight, the soldiers claimed the trade unionists were in
possession of two pistols, dynamite, and detonating cord.
The Fiscalia issued arrest warrants for the three labor
leaders in 2003 for alleged collaboration with the National
Liberation Army (ELN). The three soldiers have been in
Fiscalia custody since September 7, when they were detained
based on warrants issued the previous day. The Fiscalia has
also ordered the detention of a reinserted ELN guerrilla who
reportedly led the soldiers to the home outside Saravena
where the trade unionists were staying.

Fiscalia Actions Satisfy NGOs, Unions

3. (C) The preventive detention orders, which formally link
the three accused soldiers to the alleged crime, suggest that
the case will be heard by the civilian criminal justice
system, rather than by the military penal justice system.
Fiscalia officials have said both publicly and privately that
they expect the case to be tried in civilian court. In a
recent conversation with the Embassy, Elba Beatriz Silva,
director of the Fiscalia's Human Rights Unit, told us the
military has not asked for jurisdiction in the case and that
the 18th Brigade has cooperated fully with the Fiscalia's
investigation. Silva said that Prosecutor General ("Fiscal
General") Luis Osorio sent civilian human rights prosecutors
to Saravena on his official jet to take charge of the case
the day after the killings. From the outset, NGOs and labor
unions disputed the soldiers' version of events, stating that
several witnesses reported that the trade unionists were
extrajudicially executed (ref B). On September 6, Deputy
Prosecutor General Luis Alberto Santana publicly confirmed
these allegations, stating, "The evidence shows a homicide
was committed. We have ruled out that there was combat."
Reaction from NGOs and labor unions has been overwhelmingly
positive. According to Carlos Rodriguez, President of the
United Workers Central (CUT), the Fiscalia's decision "breaks
the cycle of impunity in Colombia." Silva told Emboffs that
Vice-President Francisco Santos, who came out in defense of
the soldiers shortly after the incident, admitted to her
privately that he had spoken out of turn and would make no
more public comments about the investigation.

Three Military Assigned to Vetted Unit

4. (S/NF) The Reveiz Pizarro Cavalry Battalion has been
vetted to ensure that they have not committed human rights
violations. Two platoons within the battalion have received
training from Special Forces personnel stationed on the 18th
Cavalry Squadron's base in Saravena. A third platoon is
currently being trained. The Ministry of Defense believes
all three of the accused received some form of training from
Special Forces personnel. Special Forces training normally
involves marksmanship, small unit tactics, and human rights.
The Leahy Amendment requires vetted units to take steps to
investigate and address allegations of human rights abuses.
Because the 18th Brigade has cooperated fully with the
Fiscalia's investigation and turned over the alleged
offenders for prosecution, post believes the 18th Brigade has
so far complied with this requirement.

=======================CABLE ENDS============================

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