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Cablegate: Recent Human Rights Cases Demonstrate Progress

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RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #8056/01 3181930
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 141930Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0103
INFO RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 9533
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ NOV LIMA 5625
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 6252
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL 4168
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL

UNCLAS BOGOTA 008056

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV KJUS CO
SUBJECT: RECENT HUMAN RIGHTS CASES DEMONSTRATE PROGRESS

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SUMMARY
--------

1. The Prosecutor General's office (Fiscalia)--supported by
the GOC ans using evidence generated by the Justice and Peace
Law (JPL)--has made progess on human rights. The Fiscalia is
considering asking the Supreme Court to re-open proceedings
against retired military generals Rito Alejo del Rio and Ivan
Ramirez based on paramilitary leaders' testimony in the JPL.
A court convicted three soldiers for their involvement in a
1997 massacre in Meta, and a special labor judge convicted
former paramilitary leader Salvatore Mancuso for the murder
of a labor union president. The Ministry of Social
Protection is holding a series of interagency workshops with
union leaders to gather evidence to support the investigation
and prosecution of violence against labor unionists. End
Summary

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DEL RIO AND RAMIREZ
-------------------

2. The Prosecutor General's office (Fiscalia) is considering
recommending that the Supreme Court re-open cases against
retired generals Rito Alejo del Rio and Ivan Ramirez for
their links to paramilitary groups. The Medellin-based Human
Right Unit is reviewing JPL testimony by former paramilitary
leaders Salvatore Mancuso and Ever Veloza (HH) linking these
generals--as well s other officers--to paramilitary crimes.
The Fiscalia absolved Del Rio of ties to illegal groups while
he was commanding the 17th Brigade from 1995 to 1997.
Ramirez served as commander of the Second Brigade in
Barranquilla during a period of increased paramilitary
violence. We revoked the visas of Ivan Ramirez and Rito Alejo
del Rio in 1998 and 1999 respectively on terrorism and
narcotrafficking concerns,

--------------------------------
CONVICTIONS IN META MASSACRE
--------------------------------

3. On October 23, a Villavicencio court sentenced Francisco
Enrique Gomez Vergaro, Arnoldo Vergara Trespalacios and
Leonardo Montoya Rubiano to 40 years in prison for their
roles in the July 1997 massacre of 36 people in Meta. The
case, prosecuted by the Fiscalia's Human Rights unit,
occurred when paramilitaries entered Mapiripan and murdered
the villagers, dumping an undetermined number into the
Guaviare River. This is the second set of convictions in the
case. Retired Colonel Lino Hernando Sanchez Prado, NCO Jose
Miller Uruea Diaz and NCO Juan Carlos Gamarra Polo were
previously convicted and sentenced to 40 years for the crime.
A judge's decision in the case against General Uscategui,
the senior officer involved, has been pedning for over two
years. The Fiscalia has complained to judicial oversight
bodies about the delay, and has recommended a 40 year
sentence for Uscategui. Uscategui is under house arrest.

-------------------------------------
CONVICTION IN MURDER OF USO PRESIDENT
-------------------------------------

4. Former United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC)
leader Salvatore Mancuso was convicted along with two other
paramilitary members for the murder of Auri Sarah Marrugo,
president of the Union Sindical Obrera, (USO), a Ecopetrol
union, and her driver/bodyguard, Enrique Arellano Torres in
November 2001. A special labor judge sentenced Mancuso to to
40 years in prison--the maximum sentence under Colombian law.
The murders will be added to his list of crimes as he
continues to participate in the JPL process.

--------------
UNION PATRIOTA
--------------

5. The Human Rights Unit of the Fiscalia announced on
November 7 that it had reopened 294 cases related to the
murders of members of the Union Patriota political party in
the mid 1980s and early 1990s. Human rights groups claim
more than than 2500 members of the party were killed from
1986-94. A ten-person commission, selected by Prosecutor
General Mario Iguaran, examined 527 cases and found
sufficient information to reopen 294 of them. Much of the new
information comes from the "version libre" testimony of
former paramilitaries under the JPL process. The Union
Patriotica was created in 1985, as part of President
Belisario Betancur's peace process with the FARC. Several
FARC leaders, including current Secretariat member Ivan
Marquez, participated in the party.

------------------------------
ADVANCING LABOR INVESTIGATIONS
------------------------------

6. On November 6, the GOC launched a series of workshops to
improve investigation and prosecution of cases against labor
leaders. The Ministry of Social Protection (MSP) held the
first workshop in Bogota, and will host similar workshops in
eight other cities to solicit input from local unions and
prosecutors. Vice President Francisco Santos, Prosecutor
General Mario Iguaran, Minister of Social Protection Diego
Palacios Betancourt, human rights prosecutors, and three
judges assigned to handle labor cases participated in the
Bogota event. Local International Labor Organization (ILO)
representative Marcelo Castro, National Association of
Industry Director (ANDI) Alberto Echavarria, and Colombian
labor confederation and local unions representatives also
presented their views. Echavarria called for increased GOC
actionon the invesgtigations.

7. The workshop's participants received an overview of the
status of convictions achieved so far, the commitments laid
out in the ILO-brokered Tripartite agreement, and the
provisions guaranteed to Colombian workers through Colombian
law, ILO conventions, and other international agreements. So
far, the GOC prosecuted 56 of the labor violence cases
identified by the ILO, sending 118 criminals to prison. The
new labor sub-unit of the Fiscalia, which began its work in
January 2007, prosecuted eight of those cases. The National
University facilitated information sharing from the labor
confederations regarding cases for which little or no
information currently exists, thus helping the Fiscalia begin
investigating those cases. Many of the case involving
unionists occurred years ago, with investigators lacking
basic details about the murders.
Brownfield

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