Colombia’s Prosecutor General’s Office on Thursday announced to file criminal charges against farmers accused of inciting violence during ongoing protests in the northeast of the country.
Social unrest in the Catatumbo region has left four dead and approximately 50 injured, as peasants are demanding increased autonomy and alternative crops for coca farmers. The government however, claim FARC guerrillas have infiltrated the protests, seeking to generate violence.
The farmers, supported by human rights NGOs and the United Nations in turn have accused the government of using excessive force to stem the protests. According to the accusations, the police was responsible for killing the four protesters.
The four deaths occurred between June 22 and June 25 in the town of Ocaña. The Prosecutor General has established a specialized investigation team, with experts in ballistics, homicide, human rights and topography all to examine the evidence.
This group of specialists has determined that three out of the four deaths were caused by “high speed firearm projectiles, consistent with the use of automatic and semi automatic weapons.”
Regarding the events in the municipality of Tibu on June 11, which resulted in a fire at the palace of justice and other real estate, two men have been charged for terrorism, arson, obstruction of public roads and damage to property.
Two prosecutors from the national anti-terrorism unit have been assigned to investigate the government accusation that armed groups have infiltrated the peasant demonstrations.
Although the FARC have expressed their support to the farmers, they deny being directly involved in the protests, a stance affirmed by the farmers themselves.