A retired Colombian army colonel was sentenced to thirty years in prison for his role in the forced disappearance of eleven civilians in the 1985 army siege of the Palace of Justice, which had been taken over by M-19 guerrillas.
Colonel Alfonso Plazas Vega was found to be responsible for the disappearance and death of the victims who were last seen leaving the besieged palace of justice.
The colonel was in charge of the siege during which the justice building was destroyed. The Bogota court heard that Plazas Vega ordered the escaped civilians to a nearby military school, after which they disappeared.
Families of the victims expressed joy at “historic verdict that contributes to the establishment of truth and justice.”
Plazas Vega’s defense team, who had insisted the former colonel was innocent, announced they would appeal the verdict.
The Palace of Justice siege is one of the bloodiest episodes in Colombia’s history. More than 100 people were killed on November 6 and 7, including 11 of the country’s 25 Supreme Court justices, all guerrillas involved in the attack, and, presumably, the eleven disappeared civilians.