The family of a conservative leader and journalist murdered over 18 years ago, said they will sue the Colombian government Friday in an international court, over the continued impunity of his killers, reported local media.
Alvaro Hurtado Gomez’s family will sue the Republic of Colombia with the help of the law department at American University in Washington D.C before the InterAmerican Court on Human Rights, also headquartered in Washington D.C., reported El Espectador newspaper.
The case will attempt to force the Colombian state to sanction tests to find Gomez’s killers and to protect witnesses said Caracol Radio. According to El Tiempo newspaper violence against witnesses has allegedly left six people dead since 2008 and an additional six threatened.
The family’s lawyers argued that the Prosecutor General’s Office has impeded the investigation into Gomez’s murder for the last 14 years, by failing “to establish the material and and intellectual actors of the assassination.”
The Prosecutor General’s Office has reportedly charged 11 people with the murder but all were acquitted during their trials. The defense for Gomez’s family said that the only person to be convicted in relation to the murder is “an unfortunate scapegoat,” reported El Espectador.
The defense will also ask for victim compensation for Gomez’ family who claim that the government’s “ineffectiveness” in handling the case has caused “monetary and moral damages,” according to El Tiempo.
Alvaro Gomez Hurtado was a media mogul who founded the Colombian newspaper “El Siglo,” magazine “Sintesis Economica” and a TV news station. He was also a conservative politician who ran for president three times and served as ambassador to the United States, France and Switzerland. In addition Gomez was the son of former Colombian President Laureano Gomez.
He was murdered on November 2 1995, in Bogota. Lawyers for Gomez’s family believe he was killed in retaliation for scathing editorials he wrote prior to his death that linked contemporary President Enrique Samper to the Cali cartel. They claim he was murdered by members of this drug cartel that allegedly helped finance Samper’s presidential campaign in 1994, said El Especatdor.
Under Colombian law criminal cases expire if the perpetrators are not charged within 20 years. This means the case will become invalid on November 2, 2015 if Gomez’s murderers are not found.
According to RCN news the deceased’s brother, former congressman Enrique Gomez Hurtado, has reportedly petitioned the IACHR to rule the case a human rights crime. If the case is ruled a human rights crime then Colombian law stipulates that there will be no investigation time limit.
In May 2013 a former paramilitary member Edwin Zambrano, alias “William” implicated an imprisoned former army General Rita Aleja del Rio in the murder. Del Rio is currently serving a 25-year sentence stemming from the 1997 murder and dismemberment of a community leader in the northwestern Choco state.
According to Zambrano, the murder was planned during a meeting three months before, between paramilitary leaders, drug traffickers, and members of the country’s security forces, including general Del Rio himself.