Colombia’s Inspector General’s Office has asked to revoke the 30-year conviction of Colonel Alfonso Plazas Vega, after a key witness in the Palace of Justice case asserted that his testimony was supplanted and falsified, El Tiempo reported Tuesday.
Plazas Vega was imprisoned for his role in the forced disappearance of eleven civilians in the 1985 army siege of the Palace of Justice, which had been taken over by M-19 guerrillas before the army stormed the building in an operation that left over a hundred dead.
Edgar Villamizar, whose testimony in 2010 was apparently influential in the conviction and 30-year sentencing of Plazas Vega, told the Inspector General’s Office last week that “I was never in any operation in the retaking of the Palace of Justice. Secondly, I have never had personal and direct contact with Colonel Alfonso Plazas Vega.”
Villamizar said he is not the same person as the court believed him to be and denied giving any testimony to the authorities in the process, noting that the document was signed with a false name.
“My surname is Villamizar Espinal, not Villareal. I am from Cucuta, not Pamplona; the signature that appears on the testimony is not mine,” he stated. Villamizar also assured the inspector general that he did not attend Cavalry School, was never a member of the Thirteenth Brigade, and therefore was not present during the Palace of Justice siege.
The supposed original statement by Villamizar, which was used by the Prosecutor General’s Office in 2010, said that he was moved from Granada with 14 men to support the retaking of the Palace of Justice. According to the allegedly false 2010 testimony, Villamizar overheard Colonel Plazas Vega order another general to kill hostages in the Palace of Justice, instructing him to “hang those sons of bitches.” After two days in the Palace of Justice, the testimony reported that he returned to the Cavalry School.
Inspector General Alejandro Ordoñez will also ask to open a case against prosecutor Angela Buitrago for the suspected use of a false witness.