The Superior Tribunal of Bogota has upheld the 30-year sentence of retired Colonel Luis Alfonso Plazas Vega, for his role in the forced disappearance of civilians during the 1985 Palace of Justice siege.
Plazas Vega had appealed his sentence, claiming he was not involved in the aggravated forced disappearance of 11 people who disappeared after the military retook the Palace of Justice from M-19 guerrillas on November 6, 1985.
Investigations found that Carlos Horacio Uran, an assistant judge to the Council of State, as well as cafeteria workers, two visitors and guerrilla Irma Franco Pineda survived the siege but were not seen again. It’s believed the military tortured and killed them.
The court rejected Plazas Vega’s appeal and also ordered Congress to investigate then-President Velisario Betancurt for his alleged responsibility in one of the bloodiest army offensives in the history of the country.
The former colonel is the only person to have ever been convicted for involvement in the siege, in which more than 100 people died. Retired Colombian army general Ivan Ramirez Quintero and two fellow soldiers were acquitted last month.
The Palace of Justice, seat of Colombia’s Supreme Court, was taken over by M-19 guerrillas on November 6, 1985. Judges, staff, and members of the public were taken hostage.
The occupation and the army siege of the building left more than 100 dead, including 11 of the 25 country’s Supreme Court magistrates, 48 Colombian soldiers, and all 35 guerrillas who took part in the occupation of the building.