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Cablegate: Military Kills Husband of Cauca Indigenous Leader

VZCZCXYZ0016
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #4457 3521702
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 171702Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6146
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 8563
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 1440
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ DEC 9833
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA PRIORITY 6835
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA PRIORITY 2796
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 7537
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL PRIORITY 4733

UNCLAS BOGOTA 004457

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PTER PGOV PREL ECON SOCI CO
SUBJECT: MILITARY KILLS HUSBAND OF CAUCA INDIGENOUS LEADER

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SUMMARY
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1. (U) 29th Army Brigade Commander General Barrero told us
Colombian soldiers killed the husband of prominent Regional
Indigenous Council of Cauca (CRIC) Chairperson Aida Quilcue
when his vehicle did not stop at a check-point around 4:00am
on December 16. Barrero called the incident a "terrible
accident." The three surviving witnesses said no checkpoint
existed, but noted it was dark when the incident occurred.
Quilcue told us she believes the military meant to kill her
due to her role in recent protests. The indigenous guard
surrounded the 32 soldiers involved in the shooting. Defense
Minister Juan Manuel Santos asked the United Nations to
accompany the Prosecutor General's (Fiscalia) expedited
investigation. We stressed the need for a transparent,
impartial and rapid investigation to Prosecutor General Mario
Iguaran. END SUMMARY.

2. (U) Quilcue's husband, Edwin Legarda, was shot by
Colombian soldiers around 4:00am on December 16 between Inza
and Totoro in Eastern Cauca department, and died in a
hospital a few hours later. Quilcue told us the military
claimed they saw a machine gun in the vehicle, noting it was
still dark at the time of the incident. She said her husband
was traveling with a medical mission--one of the three
surviving witnesses was a nurse who was injured. Quilcue
said Legarda was planning to pick her up in Popayan after her
trip to the United Nation's Human Rights Conference in
Geneva. She voiced concern that the GOC targeted the vehicle
with the intention to kill her--she said the 17 bullet holes
in the vehicle from various directions proved it was an
"ambush." She said the CRIC vehicle was unmarked, but well
known in the area.

3. (SBU) Army 3rd Division Commander Justo Eliseo Pena said
the soldiers asked the vehicle to stop, and when it did not,
they were "confused" and opened fire. He apologized for the
soldiers' overreaction, noting that no Army protocol
permitted firing on a vehicle solely because it did not stop
at a checkpoint. He said they were not professional
soldiers, but were locally-recruited peasant soldiers. 29th
Brigade Commander Barrero, who commands the troops involved
in the incident, confirmed Pena's version and said the
military was cooperating with a Fiscalia and Inspector
General (Procuraduria) officials who were investigating the
shooting. United Nations High Commission on Human Rights
(UNHCHR) Jesus Pena told us they received conflicting stories
from the military about whether or not the military saw a gun
in Legarda's vehicle, and about the presence of a checkpoint.

4. (SBU) Defense Ministry Human Rights Officer Carlos Gomez
said the military is concerned about the incident, and feared
the reaction of the Cauca indigenous and the indigenous
guard. He said the incident was unacceptable, but noted high
tensions in the area due to an on-going FARC presence. A
representative from the Northern Cauca Association of
Indigenous Councils (ACIN) told us the local indigenous guard
surrounded the 32 soldiers at the site of the incident,
demanding that the soldiers be sent to a civilian jail in
Cali instead of the military jail in Popayan.

5. (U) Polcouns stressed the need for a transparent,
impartial and rapid investigation to Prosecutor General Mario
Iguaran. Iguaran said MOD Santos had agreed to fully support
the Fiscalia's investigation. United Nations (UN)
Development Program Director Bruno Mora told us the UN agreed
to the MOD request to accompany the civilian investigation,
noting the participation of the Procuraduria, the Medical
Examiner's Office, the CRIC, the Senate's Human Rights
Commission, the Presidential Human Rights Program, and the
National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC).

6. (U) The UN and the European Union released a statement
condemning the death, expressing concern about the
circumstances, and encouraging a timely and transparent
investigation. Ministry of Interior and Justice Indigenous
Director Pedro Posada told us the scheduled national
indigenous dialogue meetings would likely be postponed
indefinitely by the indigenous due to the incident.

NICHOLS

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