At least 18 bodies were found in three mass graves in a rural, war-stricken area in southwestern Colombia. The remains are thought to be of victims of a guerrilla massacre that took place in the 1980s.
One of the graves was discovered by a group of indigenous people when working the land. They immediately informed the authorities who, after further search, exhumed four complete skeletons and the remains of at least fourteen other people.
“It seems that the bodies have been buried there for several years. Beginning this weekend, experts from Technical Investigations Unit (CTI) of Colombia’s Attorney-General’s office are working on the site of discovery. We are waiting for their final assessment to find out what exactly we are dealing with,” the governor of the Cauca state, Themistocles Ortega, told the media.
CTI investigators working on the exhumation explained to El Pais that they are working to establish the identities of human remains, which will then be checked against documents on mass disappearances and massacres recorded in that zone of the country in recent years.
The CTI did not provide further details of the operation, as their work was interrupted by attacks from gunmen from the nearby mountains.
Officials claim the attacks were carried out by members of the sixth front of FARC. Reportedly, nobody was injured.
It is suggested that the mass graves discovered in northern Cauca may belong to the victims of the Ricardo Franco front of M-19, which was responsible for various crimes in this area during the 1980s and 1990s.
The Ricardo Franco front of M-19, ran by “Javier Delgado” and Hernando Pizarro, separated from FARC in 1982. At that time it was the most powerful guerrilla group, better equipped than their counterparts (FARC, EPL, other M-19 fronts, etc.).
In the Tacueyo massacre 164 guerrilla soldiers were tortured and executed for their presumed espionage and infiltration by the national army or the CIA.
Most of the murdered soldiers were illiterate peasants and children who had just entered the ranks of the Ricardo Franco front.
The massacre was discovered on December 13, 1985 and attributed to Jose Fedor Rey Alvarez, “Javier Delgado”, who earned a nickname “The Monster of the Andes” for his exceptional brutality.
Delgado was captured by the authorities in 1995. The Regional Prosecutor’s Office charged him with crimes of rebellion and murder of 144 people in the Tacueyo massacre.
He was sentenced to 19 years in prison. On June 30, 2002 he was found dead in his cell in an apparent suicide. However, it was speculated that Delgado was allegedly killed by the commanders of FARC.
On Sunday the remaining cadavers were transferred to the Forensic Medicine headquarters. The results of the exhumation are to be announced in the coming hours.