Several ex-paramilitaries have claimed that the Colombian army was not only complicit in the murders of a number of families, but was actively involved in the killings and cover-ups.
The demobilized paramilitaries, who belonged to the Heroes de Tolovó Bloc, who are being held on charges of multiple murders, have accused members of the Seventeenth Brigade, and particularly Captain Guillermo Armando Gordillo of being involved. The Captain has taken an anticipatory sentence.
According to witnesses’ statements, the military worked in conjunction with the paramilitaries, accompanying the entire operation, which was part of a consensus between the armed forces and the illegal armed organization, reported newspaper El Espectador.
Captain Gordillo admitted to all of the above during interrogation. Ten other officials and their subordinates’ cases are currently at the “cause and resolution of charges” stage, said the Prosecutor’s Office.
A trial took place on 21 February 2005 regarding the killings of Luis Eduardo Guerra Guerra, his partner Beyanira Areiza, and her younger son Deyner Andrés Guerra Tuberquia, in the village of Multaos Medio – Alto, in Antioquia. There was also a similar incursion in the village of La Resbalosa in Cordoba, when Alfonso Bolívar Tuberquia Graciano, his wife Sandra Milena Muñoz Pozo, and their children Natalia and Santiago, five and three years old, were murdered, along with the guerilla Alejandro ‘Cristo de Palo’ Pérez Castaño.
All eight bodies were buried in a mass grave in the municipality of San Jose de Apartado, a common practice for outlaw groups operating in the region. At the same time, ex-mayor Gloria Cuartas had denounced the complicity of the Seventeenth Brigade, then headed by General Rito Alejo del Río, who is currently charged with the murder of protected persons.
On 24 February 2005 charges for the murders were made public, which resulted in a specialized investigation by the Prosector’s Office, the Inspector General’s Office, and the National Institute of Forensic Medicine. The La Corraleja farm was inspected, where the remains of the victims were found in a mass grave.
Investigations in the region quickly established that the murders were the responsibility of paramilitary groups in the area, who also worked with warlord Diego Fernando ‘Don Berna’ Murillo, in association with members of the Bolivar Company of the Velez Battalion, assigned to the Seventeenth Brigade.
After establishing the responsibility of soldiers and members of the AUC, the Prosecution filed charges against Captain Gordillo and ten other members of his unit as perpetrators of the killings, which joined older accusations regarding the alleged alliance between the Seventeenth Brigade, based in Carepa, Antioquia, and the men commanded by ‘Don Berna’ and fellow warlord Freddy ‘El Aleman’ Rendon Herrera.
Community leaders like Cuartas and the leader of the Peace Community of San Jose Apartado, Father Javier Giraldo, speak of hundreds of killings, which are used as a systematic tool for the extermination of peasants and other community representatives.
The allegations led to an investigation against the priest for allegedly collaborating with guerrilla fronts in the region, after a demobilized FARC member known as ‘Samir’ made reference to the alliance. The Prosecution, however, disproved the allegations and closed the investigation. However, they did find reason to charge Yamid ‘Alvaro’ or ‘Alvarez’ de Jesus Gonzalez Galarraga, Manuel Antonio ‘Pato’ Urango Mejia, and Dernais ‘Caucano’ Pérez Hernandez.
The former members of the Heroes de Tolovo Bloc currently in custody, are charged with murder of protected persons, barbarism and criminal conspiracy.