Three years after Colombia’s prosecution decided to blame innocent civilians for a terrorist attack on a Bogota shopping mall, the victims’ families are still waiting for a real investigation.
The Prosecutor General’s Office meanwhile is desperately trying to avoid embarrassment and an investigation while the bomber and his possible conspirators walk free.
The bombing and the message
The June 17 bomb attack on the Andino mall in the exclusive Chapinero neighborhood left two Colombians and one French citizen dead, and nine other people injured.
The terrorist attack also delivered a clear political message to the Colombian people that President Juan Manuel Santos’ promise of peace made four days earlier was empty.
Peace is a reality. The signing of the Final Agreement for the construction of a stable and lasting peace with the FARC-EP is a definitive step towards ending 50 years of violence that has left more than 8 million victims and 220,000 dead. Finally, a path of hope is opened for the next generations of Colombians to live in a country in peace.
Former President Juan Manuel Santos (June 13, 2017)
Stage 1: Ignoring and disappearing evidence
Almost immediately after the attack, National Police director Jorge Nieto said it was too early for any hypothesis on who was behind the attack.
According to Nieto, the Judicial Police of the Prosecutor General’s Office had assumed the investigation and had begun looking at the video footage.
Former Prosecutor General Nestor Humberto Martinez never cared about justice for the victims, he needed a scapegoat to demonstrate he was not an inept fraud, and quick.
The morning after the bombing, weekly Semana said that among the suspects were guerrilla group ELN, paramilitary group AGC and “dark forces”. Semana focused, however, on the MRP, a group nobody outside Bogota had ever heard of.
El Tiempo cited “government and intelligence sources” claiming the activist group was behind the bombing.
Police warnings from June that the AGC was planning bomb attacks in Bogota and Medellin were ignored.
The explosives allegedly used in the bombing changed within days and the video footage of the bombing mentioned by Nieto mysteriously disappeared.
Instead, the prosecution released sketches of six men deemed suspicious by witnesses three days after the attack, adding the witness’ descriptions were contradictory.
The sketch of the man allegedly leaving the ladies’ room was also never used in court as he resembled none of the victims of the prosecution’s alleged hoax investigation.
Stage 2: Faking results
A Bogota judge on June 30 agreed to jail five men and four women, all of them social activists and attorneys. None of them were charged with their involvement in the bombing, but of being members of the MRP.
The leftist activist group, which fiercely condemned the attack, denied knowing any of the arrested activists. The detainees denied having anything to do with either the MRP or the bombing.
A 10th suspect, Ivan Ramirez, was arrested in early July. Ramirez is a sociologist, but the prosecution prefers media calling him “Taliban.”
Because the prosecution had no evidence to indicate any of the suspects had anything to do with either the terrorist attack or the leftist activist group and refused to investigate the bombing, an embarrassing cat and mouse game began.
Every time judges ordered to release the political prisoners, the prosecution arrested them again only to be told to release them again.
Political prisoners released
The Prosecutor General’s last arrests were made earlier this month when officials again arrested Cesar Andres Barrera and Cristian Sandoval after a judge in Cali agreed to warrant their arrest without evidence.
By Friday, however, the men and six of the other political prisoners were free again.
Artist Lina Ramirez and Ivan Ramirez are the only ones left in prison, but likely to be released again before the end of this week.
Three years after a bomber took the lives of Julie Huynh, Ana Maria Gutierrez and Lady Paola Jaimes, their families are still waiting for justice while Colombia’s prosecution can expect lawsuits for their three-year-long rape of justice.