The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) announced Tuesday it would reconsider its ruling against the Colombian government in a 1997 massacre case.
The Colombian defense minister, Juan Carlos Esguerra, visited the IACHR in Costa Rica yesterday to ask them to rethink their 2005 ruling ordering the government to pay $8 million compensation to victims of a massacre in Mapiripan. It agreed to examine new evidence, giving the government 90 days to provide more information.
Since the original investigation, which concluded 49 people died at the hands of AUC paramilitaries in collaboration with the Colombian army, it has emerged that at least one of the victims’ relatives lied about their story, and some people presumed to be dead have been found alive. Colombia’s Prosecutor General carried out a fresh investigation which concluded only ten people could be confirmed dead, prompting the country’s president, Juan Manuel Santos, to call the IACHR case a “mockery of international human rights system.”
Esguerra went one step further, accusing alleged “false victims” and their lawyers of a “shameless conspiracy to defraud the Colombian state.” The Jose Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective (CAJAR) has vigorously denied these allegations, and with the IAHRC has pointed out that verifying the exact number of dead is close to impossible as victims were chopped up and thrown in a river.
Following Esguerra’s presentation Wednesday, the court left the possibility of reviewing the sentence open – which if it happened would set a precedent for the organization. A spokesperson said, “While there is no provision (for reviewing a sentence) in the rules of the court, there is some legal background of revision in cases like this, where it can be demonstrated that the actual facts (…) do not correspond with those that served as the basis for the original sentence.”
The seven representatives from CAJAR left the court visibly upset and declined to comment, according to RCN Radio.