A Colombian army colonel suspected of having ordered the extrajudicial execution of four civilians is not able to appear before court, because he is in Washington on an Organization of American States (OAS) mission, the army said Tuesday.
Following an article in newspaper El Tiempo that reported on colonel Jose Gabriel Castrillon’s absence in two court hearings, the army told the paper that the official “is on a diplomatic mission as an advisor before the OAS” and will be back on July 13, 2011.
Colombia’s ambassador to the OAS Luis Alfonso Hoyos admitted he had accredited the colonel on July 14 “for his good performance” to study at the Inter-American Defense School, three months after the Prosecutor General’s Office filed criminal charges against the military official.
According to the army, Castrillon’s court case does not impede Castrillon from carrying out his job.
The news angered family members of the victims of the extrajudicial killings allegedly carried out by the colonel’s men. According to El Tiempo, they sent a letter to President Juan Manuel Santos to request the return of the colonel’s, whose trip they consider “an award for forced disappearance.”
Defense Minister Rodrigo Rivera told the newspaper that it was not the current administration of Santos that had sent Castrillon to Washington. Rivera said he had already spoken to the military command to make sure the colonel “is promptly brought to justice and helps to establish the facts that are investigated.”