A murdered magistrate’s son demanded that former President Betancur be called before the Inter-American Human Rights Court over his alleged responsibility for the Palace of Justice siege.
The son of a magistrate who was killed during the siege in 1985 announced his intention to demand that ex-President Belisario Betancur and military commanders who lead the siege be called for questioning before the international human rights tribunal regarding their part in the episode which left over a hundred people dead and several missing.
“I have decided, given the forcefulness of this mass of evidence, to launch a criminal complaint with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights against the former president and senior military officers who commanded this sinister operation,” said the son of Manuel Gaona Cruz in a report by Caracol TV.
The son’s declaration came shortly after a truth commission charged with investigating the Palace of Justice siege presented its final report, concluding that the assault on the palace by M-19 guerrillas was financed by drug lord Pablo Escobar, and that Betancur’s government did not do enough to guarantee the safety of the hostages.
The commission determined that extra-judicial executions of guerrillas and civilians took place and criticised the force employed by the army in their re-taking of the palace. It was further concluded that Gaona Cruz was killed by guerrillas.
Cruz’s son however, remains convinced that witnesses saw his father leave the palace safely with several others after the siege, only to be disappear and later turn up dead – allegedly at the hands of the military.
Cruz stressed that he did not have any economic interest in this lawsuit, because his family had already been compensated. What he seeks is justice and for perpetrators to be held accountable for their crimes.
On November 6, 1985, M-19 guerrillas took Bogota’s Palace of Justice and held some 300 hostages captive for several days. The National Army launched a violent siege to take back the building in which more than one hundred people died and eleven went missing. Those responsible for the violence have never been brought to justice.