A Colombian air force colonel returned to Colombia from France Wednesday to face trial for his part in a bombing attack that killed 17 civilians.
Colonel Sergio Velez was accused of sponsoring a 1998 airstrike that attacked a village after the FARC sabotaged an oil pipeline. Aircraft flew over the town of Santo Domingo near Venezuela and strafed the village with machine-gun fire after dropping a bomb in the village center. The attack killed at least 17 people.
Velez maintained his innocence and told reporters, “The institution believes and presumes the innocence of our crews until the end of the process.”
Two air force officials have already been convicted for their part in the attack. Cesar Romero, who claimed that the attack had been committed by the FARC has been sentenced to 360 months in prison.
FBI officials who examined the village after the strike have said that the dropped bomb was likely a cluster bomb.