Colombia’s Ministry of Defense asked to be recognized as a victim in the case against people who may have received government compensation by fraudulently claiming to be victims of the 1997 Mapiripan massacre.
According to Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon, the ministry “has paid multiple victims, as the Inter-American Court had established in that ruling, the Ministry of Defense will have to take part in the process as a victim to assess legal paths that allow, depending on how these investigations are concluded, to restore public assets.”
New investigations into the Mapiripan massacre, in which more than 49 people were thought to have been slaughtered, show the number of victims actually only to be 10.
According to the Prosecutor General’s Office, victims presumed murdered in the massacre have turned up alive or were determined to have died in separate circumstances. In other cases, witnesses have recanted earlier testimony.
One witness admitted that her husband and sons had been killed in the slaughter. She explained that her husband had actually disappeared prior to the July 1997 massacre. She also claimed that of her two sons she originally said were killed by the paramilitary death squad, one had disappeared right after her husband’s death and another was fighting for a guerrilla group until 2008.
According to Caracol Radio, more than $2.7 million has been paid to the families of “false victims” of the massacre. The witness who lied about her family received nearly $1 million in compensation after testifying before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
“It is very positive that they are advancing in the investigations because it is important to reach the truth, that is what justice is about and that is what the processes are about,” said Pinzon.
President Juan Manuel Santos has called this case one of the most serious corruption cases that he has seen in the country because it is not only a fraud to the state commited by false victims and their lawyers, but a mockery of the international human rights system that the governent has defended.