Colombia Pardons General Convicted of Killing
News from Colombia |
on: Monday, 28 March 2011
A transnational network of social and human rights organisations, the CCEEU (The Colombia, United States and Europe Coordinator) has expressed its concern over the decision by the Council of State to revoke the dismissal of General Alvaro Velandia. This decision potentially opens the road for the General to be reinstated to the ranks of the armed forces.
General Velandia is the former commander of the Charry Solano Intelligence and Counter-Intelligence Operational Command, which was later renamed 20th Brigade. This unit was so notorious that it was shut down under international pressure in 1997. The unit was known to have tortured, disappeared and killed many people, including Nydia Erika Bautista, whose killing and disappearance General Velandia was proven to have ordered in the first case against him.
During his trial the army accused the Prosecutor-General’s office of being “infiltrated by the guerrillas” and awarded the General a distinguished service medal, while at the same time the judge in charge of the case was forced into exile by threats made against him. General Velandia is also considered to be one of the main actors behind the creation of the paramilitaries in the Magdalena Medio region of Colombia.
According to the CCEEU, the revocation of General Velandia’s dismissal opens a new road towards impunity for human rights abuses, for his case was one of the few cases of state abuses where there had been an effective sanction. Moreover, overturning General Velandia’s sentence also breaks with the human rights duties of the Colombian state, and contradicts Colombian jurisprudence.