Colombia’s Inspector General’s Office Thursday wants the Prosecutor General to acquit former colonel Luis Alfonso Plazas Vega of responsability for the disappearance of at least eleven people during the 1985 Palace of Justice siege.
The attorney for the Inspector General, Jesus Villabona Barajas said that the lack of hard evidence makes it impossible to conclude that it meets legal requirements to determine the certainty of a court ruling against the defendant, reports newspaper El Espectador.
While noting that there is sufficient evidence to prove the disappearance of at least eight civilians from Bogota’s Palace of Justice, Barajas said that it fails to determine Plazas Vegas’ role in the event.
He also said that the testimony of key witnesses for the prosecution, Tirso Saenz and Edgar Villamizar Espinel, are contradictory.
According to them, “the physical recovery and transference of hostages was not the responsibility of members of the Cavalry School” to which Plazas Vega belonged. They said that responsibility for the rescued and evacuated civilians lay “with the B-2, or army intelligence, along with members of the DAS, National Police, Sijin, and F-2.”
According to the Inspector General’s Office, regarding the disappearance of thirteen people, eleven have been identified and of those, there is evidence that eight were still alive when they left the Palace of Justice, before disappearing.
Those missing are: Carlos Augusto Rodriguez-Vera, manager of the cafeteria; Cristina del Pilar Guarin Cortes; Bernardo Hernández-Beltrán; Lucy Amparo Oviedo Bonilla, occasional visitor to the Palace of Justice; Gloria Stella Lisarazo, cafeteria employee; Hector Jaime Beltran Puentes, cafeteria waiter; David Suspez Celis, cafeteria chef; and Irma Franco Pineda, member of the M-19 rebel group that coordinated the attack.
The Prosecution said that it would be able to establish that those eight people were transferred to the Casa de Florero, from which they disappeared.
However, three civilians remain unaccounted for. They are Luz Mary-Portela Leon, cashier; Gloria Isabel Anzola, a litigant lawyer who parked in the building, and Norma Constanza-Esguerra, cake supplier.
The Inspector General’s Office has noted that all three registered their entry into the Palace of Justice but that there is no proof that they emerged alive and were taken to the Casa de Florero with the others.
“For the Inspector General’s Office there is not sufficient evidence to establish the direct responsibility of [Plazas Vega] with the disappearance of eight people rescued by the National Army, who were then taken to the Casa de Florero and whose whereabouts are still unknown,” said Barajas.