A Colombian judge rules that the 2001 paramilitary massacre of 31 civilians in the town of Chengue, north Colombia, was a “crime against humanity” and orders the decade-old case reopened.
The case regards the January 7, 2001 assassination of 31 civilians in Chengue, Sucre department, by 80 members of paramilitary coalition AUC‘s Heroes de Montes de Maria Front. The killings were part of “Operation Rastrillo,” which also included the Macayepo and El Salado massacres.
The ruling by a prosecutor from the Human Rights Unit, who based the decision on principles of international humanitarian law, states that the crimes constitute a systematic attack directed at the extermination of a national community, according to an article in newspaper El Espectador. This criteria adheres to the definition of “crimes against humanity” given in the Rome Statute, the founding document of the International Criminal Court.
Based on this decision, the judge has asked a Sincelejo court to revise the original absolution of guilt for marine infantry officials Euclides Rafael Bossa and Ruben Dario Rojas, who were investigated for conspiring in the massacre.
A judge ruled in October 2009 that the Colombian state had to pay US $1.3 million to survivors and family members of those killed. The ruling stated that police and marine infantry were negligent, as they did nothing to stop the massacre, and, further, that there was evidence to suggest that some members may have participated.
Later that month, former paramilitary chief Uber Banquez, alias “Juancho Dique,” was charged for involvement in six massacres, including the Chengue Massacre.