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Cablegate: Colombia Complies with 2005 Iachr Recommendation;

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



E.O. 12958: N/A


1. The Colombian Government formally accepted responsibility
September 29 for the 1989 murder of 12 members of a GOC
judicial commission at La Rochela by paramilitary forces,
working in collaboration with elements of the GOC military.
The Colombian Government's acceptance of responsibility on
behalf of the Colombian State fulfills one of the principal
recommendations of the March 7, 2005 Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights report on this matter. End

The 1989 Murders and the IACHR Investigation

2. On January 18, 1989, the Virgilio Barco administration
sent a judicial commission to the rural area of La Rochela in
Santander Department to investigate alleged paramilitary
crimes, including multiple murders, that had occurred in
1987. Paramilitary forces kidnapped and murdered 12 members
of the commission; three members pretended to be dead and
survived the attack. On October 9, 2002, the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) determined that Colombia
had a case to answer; on March 7, 2005, the IACHR recommended
that Colombia, among other things, "publicly accept the
responsibility of the State" for the crimes.

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--------------------------------------------- ----
Colombia Accepts Responsibility, Asks Forgiveness
--------------------------------------------- ----

3. On behalf of the Colombian State and in the presence of
victims' families and friends, NGO groups, and media
representatives at a gathering in the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs, Vice President Francisco Santos recognized the
State's responsibility for failing to protect the judicial
commission members, and asked the victims' families for
forgiveness. Foreign Minister Carolina Barco was present but
asked Vice Minister Camilo Reyes to deliver her remarks
because she had lost her voice; Reyes, on Barco's behalf,
said that Colombia "condemns and deplores" the murders and
accepts responsibility for what happened. Santos, Barco, and
Reyes were joined on the podium by Defense Minister Camilo
Ospina, Prosecutor General Mario Iguaran, president of the
Supreme Council of the Judiciary Guillermo Bueno Miranda,
president of the Council of State German Rodriguez
Villamizar, and Supreme Court president Carlos Isaac Nader.

4. Santos unveiled a large plaque recognizing Colombia's
responsibility for the murders. The plaque will be displayed
in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs alongside a photo
exhibition that honors the victims.

Begin informal Embassy translation of plaque:

The Colombian State profoundly regrets the events of January
18, 1989, in the suburb of La Rochela, in lower Simacota,
Santander Department, in which were massacred criminal judges
Mariela Morales de Caro and Pablo Antonio Beltran Palomino,
with their respective Judicial Commission, composed of Samuel
Vargas Paez, Gabriel Enrique Vesga Fonseca, Cesar Augusto
Morales Cepeda, Yul German Monroy Ramirez, Carlos Fernando
Castillo Zapata, Orlando Morales Cardenas, Virgilio Hernandez
Serrano, Benhur Ivan Guasca Castro, Luis Orlando Hernandez
Munoz, and Arnulfo Mejia Duarte, during which events three
additional personnel survived.

The State recognizes its responsibility for not having taken
the necessary measures to guarantee the security and personal
integrity of the personnel.

The effectiveness of the Rule of Law requires sufficient
security so that justice operates independently and

End informal Embassy translation.

--------------------------------------------- -------------
Families Laud Loved Ones, GOC Commits to Act Against Paras
--------------------------------------------- -------------

5. Representatives of the victims' families spoke during the
ceremony about the effect the loss of their loved ones had
caused in their lives; some said that they still loved
Colombia but called for justice for their families. One
family representative, whose father died in the attack, spoke
articulately and at length about the need to ensure that both
the murderers and their commanders are prosecuted. In his
remarks in response, VP Santos said Colombia had convicted
seven people for the murders and was investigating an
additional three; he characterized paramilitaries as a "force
for instability, not stability" in Colombia and said the GOC
was committed to dismantling their structures.

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