The families of the victims of the 1985 attack on the Bogota Palace of Justice have hit back at comments made on Monday by the new head of the Colombian armed forces.
Just a week into his tenure, General Alejandro Navas courted controversy in an interview with La F.m when he said he believed retired general Alfonso Plazas Vega, who received a 30-year prison sentence for his role in the aftermath of the attack, was innocent.
Navas said he wanted the courts to review the case because it involved “political interests based on false testimony and fabricated evidence.”
In response the organization Families of the Victims of the Palace of Justice released a statement on Tuesday demanding the general prove his allegations.
The statement said “The words of General Navas hurt and disrespect the necessary independence of the judiciary. The general, as a high ranking military commander, should respect judicial rulings and not interfere.”
The group also accused the general of contributing to a “climate of intimidation” surrounding the case, highlighting the case of Judge Maria Estella Jara who fled into exile just days after sentencing Plazas Vega.
Over 100 people, including 11 Supreme Court Justices, died in the military assault on the Palace of Justice, which had been taken over by M-19 guerrillas.
The insurgents were holding over 100 people hostage and demanding President Belisario Betancur come to the palace to “stand trial” when the assault was launched.
In 2010, Plazas Vega was tried and convicted for his role in forced disappearances that took place in the wake of the siege.