One of Colombia’s high courts has ruled that former director of the DAS, Miguel Maza, wrongfully imprisoned innocent men during the course of the investigation into the 1989 assassination of the late presidential candidate Luis Carlos Galan.
Colombia’s National Police and Prosecutor General’s office have been ordered by the State Council to pay about $1.5 million in compensation for the wrongful imprisonment of three men who were accused of being involved with the murder of Galan.
The three men in question were detained for over three years in separate prisons for the crime of murder of a presidential candidate for terrorist purposes. Recent investigations however revealed that both the arrests and evidence compiled against the men were based upon many irregularities.
“This case presented a serious violation of the rights [of the wrongfully detained] and discredited the good name and honor of the aforementioned victims…These people were subjected to public ridicule and were showcased as being the perpetrators for the assassination of presidential candidate Luis Carlos Galan Sarmiento which was an event that shocked the whole country and inspired hatred, public scorn and rejection of these people,” said the Prosecutor’s General’s Office.
The high court acknowledged that the men were victims of irrational power, that their liberty was grossly affected, and that they were misleadingly stigmatized as murderers of the historic political leader.
“It was a notorious deed on a nationwide level, that…the media gave news of the arrests of the murderers of Dr. Luis Galan Caros — a disclosure that was sponsored and supported by the state, which conveyed a false image of efficiency and effectiveness in the fight against crime,” said the ruling at the time of sentencing.
The State Council said that former DAS director Miguel Maza and former National police director Colonel Oscar Peláez will be held accountable.
“The heads of major security agencies, intelligence and research state were meticulously careful once the facts were clear. Especially as it is such an issue of great importance and carries severe implications for both the institutional and democratic life of the country,” read the statement.
Both Maza and Peláez were sentenced to reimburse the state the amount of money that the defendants had to pay due to the sentence imposed by the state council.
The Prosecutor General’s Office and the National Police have two months to make a presentation of public apology to the victims and their families for having transgressed their rights and tarnished their names.