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Columbia: Five Soldiers Sentenced For The Murder Of Five Peasants

Gearóid Ó Loingsigh

4 September 2009

The Colombian courts issued a judgement on Tuesday 1st of September against five soldiers who stood accused of having cold bloodly murdered five peasants in the region of Cajamarca, Colombia.

The events occurred in 2004, when, according to the soldiers they had ambushed what they mistakenly took to be a guerrilla patrol.  At the time they received the full support of President Uribe who publicly defended them saying that “I am convinced of the good faith of the army in this error.  If it were an Army that violates human rights that shot the peasants, they would have sought to cover it up, to lie or disappear the corpses.”

There is no doubt that the Colombian army violates human rights and on this occasion they did lie and cover it up.  Not only did they murder the peasants, they made sure there were no survivors to give an alternative version.  According to the pathologist’s report, one of the dead was finished off with a single shot fired at close range, a common pratice of the Colombian Army.  However, in this case, they went one step further and according to the statement of the soldier who fired the fatal shot, they had a raffle to decide who won the prize of getting to finish off Norberto Mendez Reyes.  The same soldier stated that Corporal Gómez said that the dead don’t talk and that he had to be killed.

Amongst the dead was a six month old baby.  Despite this the President and the General in command gave them their full support, as they have consistenly done with all the murders of civilians.  No doubt, more than one liberal will say that the President acted in good faith.  The presidential webiste has to date made no mention of the case.  Uribe has not been as quick to retract his support as he was to give it.  He may yet get around to it.  Meanwhile, the thugs who slaughtered this family have started their sentences of 35 to 40 years in prison, but the General in command of the troops in the area who appeared before the media defending what had happened has received no sanction


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