Colombia court calls on ICC to investigate former president

The Superior Tribunal of Bogota has requested that the International Criminal Court investigate Colombia’s former president Belisario Betancur for his role in the forced disappearance of people during the 1985 Palace of Justice Siege.

The unprecedented recommendation was made in a 968-page report released by the Superior Tribunal Monday.

The report formed part of the court’s decision to uphold on appeal the 30-year prison sentence of former Colonel Luis Alfonso Plazas Vega, for his role in the forced disappearance of 11 people during the 1985 siege.

Another recommendation contained in the document was that the Colombian Army make a public apology in Bogota’s Plaza Bolivar for the “crimes carried out on November 6 and 7 1985.”

Plaza Bolivar houses the Palace of Justice, which was stormed by M-19 guerrillas in 1985, resulting in the death of over 100 people, including 11 Supreme Court judges. 11 people disappeared during the armed forces attempts to reclaim the building, and it’s believed they were tortured and killed by the army.

The document released by the court Monday has far-reaching implications, calling for the investigation of ex-president Betancur and the former directors of DAS and the National Police, Generals Miguel Alfredo Maza Marquez and Victor Alberto Delgado Mallarino.

It also names active military members, such as General Alejandro Navas, commander of Colombia’s armed forces, leading to calls of political persecution from the Colombian Army.

The government has stated that it respects but disagrees with the judicial decisions against army officers involved in the siege.

In a strong condemnation of the Committee on Accusations against the House of Representatives, judges Fernando Pareja and Alberto Poveda criticized the investigative body for thus far not bringing “any criminal trial [against such figures], because in Colombia judicial activity is completely tied to politics and out of convenience freely and independently values Congress.”

Along with calling for the ICC, headed by chief prosecutor Luis Morneo Ocampo, to investigate Bentacur, the report also asked Colombia’s Prosecutor General to create a specialized unit to investigate members of the Council of Ministers, and senior officials mentioned in the report.

The landmark ruling by the Superior Tribunal will be subject to review by the Supreme Court.

According to the ICC statutes, the international court has no jurisdiction over any crimes against humanity committed before 2002.

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