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Cablegate: Soacha Defendants Released From Pre-Trial Detention,

VZCZCXYZ0022
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #0025 0081928
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 081928Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1986
INFO RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/FBI WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHINGTON DC
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS BOGOTA 000025

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV KJUS CO
SUBJECT: SOACHA DEFENDANTS RELEASED FROM PRE-TRIAL DETENTION,
CRIMINAL TRIAL UNAFFECTED

REF: 09BOGOTA2089; 09BOGOTA2088

1. On January 7, the presiding judge released 17 defendants from
pre-trial detention in a criminal case arising out of alleged
"false positive" killings -- military murders presented as killed
in combat [Reftel]. Under Colombian law, defendants may only be
held in pre-trial detention for 90 days. These defendants had been
held for 209 days.

2. The decision to release the defendants is a procedural action
and not a substantive decision on the merits of the case. The 17
military members remain accused of killing three civilians from
Soacha and presenting them as killed in combat, and are expected to
stand trial. The only significant implication of the decision is
that the defendants will not be detained pending the continuation
of the pre-trial and trial proceedings.

3. The Prosecutor General's Office (Fiscalia) announced it would
appeal the decision to release the defendants. The prosecution
contends that trial has been postponed due to delay tactics by the
defense and the Court's failure to exclude time for decision on
pre-trial motions in calculating the 90 days allowed for pre-trial
detention.
BROWNFIELD

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