Colombia’s State Council has ordered the national government — acting on behalf of the Colombian Army — to pay over $500,000 dollars in damages to the family of a murdered human rights worker.
The ruling — originally handed down in late September but not circulated until Monday — holds the Colombian government accountable for a triple homicide and robbery committed fourteen years ago by a unit from the Fourth Army Brigade.
In 1999, Alex Lopera Diaz, a peace worker in the Antioquia department, and two other unarmed civilians were driving through the Sonson municipality when they were stopped at a roadside military checkpoint.
According to the State Council report, the Fourth Army Brigade unit in question searched the vehicle, and found that passengers were carrying around $80,000 in cash as a ransom payment to the FARC guerrilla group, who had kidnapped a young girl and were holding her hostage.
Once the soldiers determined that the money had been obtained legally, Lopera and the others were released, only to be stopped a few minutes later by members of the same unit, who, according to the report, killed all three passengers and took the ransom money.
Various members of the unit, including a major and other officers, have already been convicted of human rights violations by the military justice system. In the most recent ruling, the State Council is ordering the national government to pay a $552,000 indemnization fee to the Lopera family, which filed a suit to recuperate the ransom money, as well as damages for pain and suffering.
The council also ordered the Colombian Army to organize a public event apologizing to the victims’ families, calling the murder-robbery a “grave human rights violation”.
A spokesman for the Colombian Army declined to provide a comment to Colombia Reports, and a request to the State Council for a copy of the ruling has yet to be answered.
- Condena a la Nacion por violacion de los DDHH (CM&)
- Condena a Colombia por violaciones a los DDHH (El Heraldo)