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FARC, not Air Force, committed 1998 massacre, Colombia tells IACHR

posted by Marc Hall

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Colombia news - massacre

The Colombian government presents a case to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) claiming the FARC, not the Colombian Air Force (FAC), were responsible for a 1998 massacre which killed 17 people, reported local media Friday.

Two members of Colombia’s air force were sentenced to 30 years in jail for their role in the Santa Domingo massacre last year following a ruling by the IACHR that the army were responsible.

It ruled that the victims, who died during a confrontation between the FAC and guerrillas near Arauca, Norte de Santander, were killed by a bomb dropped from a helicopter piloted by the two soldiers — but a Colombian forensic investigation indicates they were killed by a FARC car bomb, according to a new dossier presented to the IACHR.

A 2011 ruling by an Arauca judge placed all responsibility on the FARC. Though most of those who testified in the case said the explosion took place after army helicopters arrived, the ruling stated that an analysis of shrapnel which hit the victims revealed “raw material commonly used in homemade bombs and explosives,” while there was no trace of TNT, the explosive used in military bombs.

The FAC were reportedly pursuing plain-clothed FARC guerrillas when the explosion took place, injuring 27 alongside the 17 dead.

A Colombian High Court is to ask the IACHR to review the evidence. It will have to come up with a final ruling since in Colombian law there cannot be two investigations for the same crime.

The version of events forwarded by the Colombian judge in Arauca was that the FAC pilots deployed a bomb and simultaneously a truck loaded with FARC weaponry exploded, spreading shrapnel throughout the surrounding area. It is possible that the blast from the FAC bomb denoted the explosives in the truck.

A previous petition to the IACHR had argued that following the massacre the “[the Colombian] state was responsible for violating the rights to life, humane treatment, personal liberty, and judicial protection.”

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