Two former Colombian guerrillas made a historic visit to the Palace of Justice Wednesday, where their group took part in a bloody siege 26 years ago, reported El Espectador.
Mayor of Bogota Gustavo Petro, and Chief of Staff of the Bogota Mayor’s Office Antonio Navarro, both previous members of the defunct M-19 guerrilla group, were on an official visit to the headquarters of the Colombian High Court, having taken office earlier this month.
President of the Court Juan Carlos Henao called the event, “a ceremonial but highly symbolic visit to an institution that is the offspring of the 1991 constitution, which is the political charter of peace and reconciliation among Colombian.”
The November 1985 Palace of Justice siege saw 35 armed rebels storm the building, taking 300 lawyers, judges and Supreme Court magistrates hostage in the process.
The rebels demanded that Colombian President-at-the-time Belisario Betancur be tried by the magistrates for betraying the country’s desire for peace.
After failed negotiations, Betancur handed the situation over to the military, who stormed the building and killed more than 100 people, including 11 Supreme Court Justices and all of the guerrillas.
The military has also been accused of torturing and murdering 11 people who went missing in the aftermath of the siege.
Only one person – Army Colonel Alfonso Plazas – has ever been convicted for involvement in the forced disappearances, receiving a 30 year sentence in 2010, which forced the judge sitting the case to flee the country due to death threats.
Last month retired General Ivan Ramirez was controversially acquitted for his role in the event, despite strong documented evidence of the disappearance of guerrilla Irma Franco, in a case which saw a key witness refuse to testify amid safety concerns.