Families of victims rejected the Friday acquittal of former Colombian Army general Ivan Ramirez in the case of the disappearance of 11 civilians during the 1985 siege on the guerrilla-occupied Palace of Justice.
The families consider the general the mastermind behind the disappearances of the civilians who were rescued when the army attacked the Palace of Justice that had been occupied by guerrillas of M-19.
“This is the worst Christmas ‘present’ we could have,” the wife of one of the disappeared cafetaria workers was quoted as saying by weekly Semana.
“We respect the decision of justice, but we do not share the consideration that there are doubts regarding the participation of Ramirez and his men in the established crimes,” the families’ attorney, Jorge Molano, told the magazine.
The victims’ lawyer announced he would appeal the decision of a Bogota district court.
Military defense organization DEMIL applauded the acquittal, calling it a “historic victory” for the military. According to a press release by the organization, the judge justly recognized the “inconcistencies in this process.”
So far, only one person — retired Army Colonel Alfonso Plazas Vegas — has been convicted for the forced disappearance of the civilians. Plazas Vegas was sentenced to 30 years in 2010 for his role in the forced disappearances.
During the occupation and the army siege of the building, more than 100 people died, including 11 of the 25 country’s Supreme Court magistrates, 48 Colombian soldiers, and all 35 guerrillas who took part in the occupation of the building.