FARC commander conviction overturned in Santo Domingo massacre

A Colombian judge overturned the conviction of a FARC commander March 29 for his alleged role in a 1998 massacre in which 17 civilians were killed. The judge in northeastern Arauca department ruled it was unlawful to sentence Germán Suárez Briceno AKA “Grannobles” for the deaths of civilians in a Colombian Air Force (FAC) response to the slaying of nine soldiers by Grannobles and his men. Grannobles continues to face charges for the killings of the soldiers. Authorities investigated the bombing, known as the Santo Domingo Massacre, and the FAC was ordered to pay compensation to the victims’ families. The Colombian government has appealed a decision by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) to force the state to compensate the victims, claiming the FARC was guilty of the civilian deaths. (Colombia Reports, March 30)

A FAC helicopter crew faced charges in the attack on the village, although investigations also revealed the complicity of US contract pilots and Occidental Petroleum, which closely collaborates with the Colombian military in the region. The armed forces were accused by rights groups of bottlenecking the investigation, and the findings sparked outraged denials from the Colombian armed forces and from Oxy.

See our last post on Colombia’s civil war.

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