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Info from US govt. source to prove Colombian military committed massacre

by Chris Geovanis, HammerHard MediaWorks/Chicago Thursday, Sep. 21, 2000 at 3:14 AM

Four Colombian survivors of the 1998 Santo Domingo massacre will testify before a formal Tribunal of Opinion this weekend about the Colombian military's responsibility for the incident. Evidence will include documentation from a highly placed U.S. government source showing that at least one U.S. donated helicopter was used in the massacre.

Chicago, IL -- Four survivors of a 1998 massacre of Colombian villagers in the town of Santo Domingo arrived in Chicago this week to make final preparations to testify at a Sept. 22-23 "Tribunal of Opinion" being convened to investigate the incident. The Tribunal has been organized by Northwestern University's Center for International Human Rights, Amnesty International and other U.S., Colombian and international organizations, at the request Colombian groups who charge that the military has consistently impeded an open investigation into the massacre. Organizers and participants will convene a press conference on Thursday morning to discuss the upcoming Tribunal.

Counsel for the victims report that witnesses will testify that the Colombian military's 'Aerial Combat Command Unit #2,' bombed their village, and will introduce 'incontrovertible evidence' from a highly placed U.S. government source that U.S. military aid and equipment was used by that unit in the operation. The Colombian military -- which has refused to open a formal investigation into the massacre -- has repeatedly denied that allegation, asserting instead that the massacre was caused by the explosion of a guerilla bomb. Independent F.B.I. analysis of forensic evidence has shown that bomb fragments can be linked to munitions known to be carried by at least one Colombian Air Force helicopter flown at the scene of the massacre. Approximately 19 people, including seven children, were killed in the incident, and another 25 were injured. Villagers also allege that the Colombian military sacked the village in the wake of the bombing.

Tribunal jurists will include former IL Supreme Court Justice Seymour Simon; Cook County Public Defender Rita Fry; Bernardine Dohrn of Northwestern University's Children and Family Justice Center; and two former State Senators, Jesus Garcia and Dawn Clark Netsch. The Tribunal has assigned lawyers to present evidence and argument defending the Colombian militarys version of events.

Human rights activists have argued that the Santo Domingo massacre fits a sweeping pattern of human rights violations by the Colombian military and its paramilitary affiliates that raises grave concerns about U.S. military aid to the Colombian government.

The Chicago Tribunal is one of many that are being organized in countries including Italy and Spain as part of the International Campaign Against Impunity: Colombia Demands Justice, which was initiated by a coalition of hundreds of Colombian popular organizations and human rights groups.

September 21: press conference
10:00 a.m., McCormick Bld., 1st Floor, Getz Courtroom #175
Northwestern University Law School, 350 E. Superior Ave., Chicago

September 22-23: Tribunal of Opinion
10:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., 9/22; 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., 9/23
Northwestern University Law School, 357 E. Chicago Ave., Chicago

For more information, contact Prof. Douglass Cassel at 312-503-2224.

Northwestern University School of Law
357 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL, 60611-3069, U.S.A.
Phone: 312-503-2224; Fax: 312-503-5950
Prof. Douglass Cassel, Director, d-cassel@law.northwestern.edu
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