Colombia to be sanctioned for 1985 Palace of Justice massacre

(Photo: Colprensa)

Colombia is in line to be convicted and sanctioned by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDR) for its actions during the 1985 Palace of Justice siege, according to the director of the National State Defense.

Adriana Guillen, who has been head of the National State Defense since last September, announced on Thursday that state representatives will appear before the Court of Human Rights to present their arguments and supporting evidence. These final proceedings will take place in the Brazilian capital Brasilia in November.

The case involves the killing of 100 people, including numerous Supreme Court magistrates, when the Colombian military launched a counter-attack against the raid and take-over of the building – housing the head of Colombia’s judicial branch – by the M-19 urban guerrilla group.

MORE: Authorities want M-19 guerrillas sentenced for Palace of Justice siege

CIDR is basing its case on the premise that the state was disproportionate in its use of force against the siege and that it overreached the limits of legitimate response.

Family members of victims are seeking damages of $24 million in the case. According to Guillen, the state’s defense strategy is to accept partial responsibility for the incident while minimizing the damage to the state. She said: “We assume responsibility in cases where the body of evidence demonstrates that we should.”

She added: “We must not forget that 28 years later we still have 11 cases of missing persons and that alone is grounds for conviction.”

The state is not the only party to be asked to take responsibility, Colombia’s Inspector General in 2011 called on authorities to sentence a number of former M-19 guerrillas for their part in the siege.


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