the commander of the Third Army Brigade, General Rafael Hernández López,
Lieutenant-Colonel Becerra, Major Eduardo Delgado, Lieutenant Luis Alfonso
Vega, two corporals Leopoldo Moreno and Alexander Canizales and police sergeant
Amando Aguilera, in relation to the Riofrío massacre.
Despite strong evidence of the direct participation of army personnel in the
massacre, the recommended disciplinary charges against the officers only refer
to false statements and attempts to conceal the massacre. General Rafael
Hernández is accused of having falsified documents in order to support the
claim that the victims were guerrillas killed in a battle with an army unit.
According to the Procurator-General's office Lieutenant-Colonel Becerra came
to know of the massacre subsequently, at which point he sent an army unit into
the area which dressed the bodies in guerrilla uniforms, placed weapons in
their hands and reported that the victims had been killed in a confrontation
with the army.
The Procurator General's office concluded, however, that the victims had been
killed by unknown attackers. This interpretation appears to ignore the fact
that military authorities immediately and publicly claimed the deaths were
a result of a confrontation between the army and guerrilla forces - a version
they have repeated on numerous occasions.
The area in which the massacre took place is one in which drug-traffickers
are influential and are pressurizing peasant farmers to sell them their land
so as to create large estates. Strong evidence exists of a close relationship
between drug-traffickers, the police and army in the region.
The Procurator-General's office findings were made known shortly after the
dismissal of the military judge Juan de Dios Hincapié Gutiérrez by
Brigadier-General Hernández who had assigned him to investigate the case. The
judge was reportedly convened to a meeting by the Brigadier-General at which
he was informed of his dismissal from the case. Lieutenant-Colonel Becerra
also attended the meeting. The presence of Lieutenant-Colonel Becerra
determining the involvement of a judge in a case in which he is directly
implicated suggests a manipulation of the judicial process in order to ensure
impunity for the officers involved.
FURTHER RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express and
airmail letters in Spanish, English or your own language:
- expressing concern that despite the strong evidence against them, neither
Lieutenant-Colonel Becerra nor General Rafael Hernández are being investigated
for direct involvement in the massacre at Riofrío;
- urging that the investigations already started by the Procurator-General
be thorough and immediate in order to identify those responsible for ordering
and carrying out the massacre, and that the results be made public;
- urging that those found responsible for the killings be brought to justice
and that their case should be heard by the civilian courts to prevent further
1)President of Colombia:
Señor Presidente César Gaviria Trujillo
Presidente de la República
Palacio de Nariño, Bogotá, Colombia
Telegrams: President Gaviria, Bogotá, Colombia
Telexes: 44281 PALP CO