39 Years of impunity in the Colectivo 82 case

39 Years of impunity in the Colectivo 82 case

This case is one of the first serious episodes of collective detention – forced disappearance in Colombia.

After more than 10 years of opening the investigation and more than 39 years since the forced disappearance of the young workers and students of the National and District Universities in 1982, the Prosecutor’s Office called the members of the National Police Lieutenant Colonel NACIN YANINE DIAZ as head of the DIPEC at the time of the events, Major ERNESTO CONDIA GARZÓN and Agent LUIS ERNESTO SUAREZ CEBALLOS, proceedings that will begin this Friday, December 3, 2021.


Who were the victims?

Orlando García Villamizar, a law student at the National University, and Pedro Pablo Silva Bejarano, a medical student at the National University and electrician, who were disappeared on March 4, 1982 in Bogotá. These students were apprehended by plainclothes personnel and taken into a van.

Alfredo Rafael Sanjuan Arévalo, student of Architecture at the National University and of Cadastral Engineering at the District University, and his brother Samuel Humberto Sanjuan Arévalo, student of Anthropology at the National University, were disappeared on March 8, 1982 in Bogotá. The Sanjuan Arevalo brothers, days before their disappearance, according to the testimony of one of the family’s neighbors, were being discreetly watched by some individuals who said they were detectives without specifying the details. After their detention and forced disappearance, vehicles identified in the file carried out an intense patrol of the area.

Edgar Helmut Garcia Villamizar, a Sociology student at the National University and Rodolfo Espitia Rodriguez were disappeared on August 18, 1982 in Bogota. These young men were held together with the minor Camilo Andres Garcia, 3 years old, the latter was taken to the police by Major Jorge Alipio Venegas, head of intelligence of the DIPEC (DIJIN) according to testimony in the case file.

Gustavo Campos Guevara, student at the National University, disappeared on August 23, 1982, by state agents.

Hernando Ospina Rincón, captured in his mechanic shop in Bogotá by several officers who identified themselves as belonging to the F-2, allegedly arrived in a red wine Mercedes Benz and then forced into a pickup truck.

Rafael Guillermo Prado Useche, a law student at the National University, was beaten, tied up and disappeared by civilian personnel. According to the case file, the young man was allegedly put in a Mercedes Benz with the same characteristics as in the case of Hernando Ospino Rincón.

Edilbrando Joya Gómez, Mechanical Engineering student at the National University, disappeared on September 13, 1982, after leaving his residence on his way to the University. He was detained by civilian personnel of the F-2 and taken into a red camper. On September 15 of the same year he was seen handcuffed and surrounded by agents of the F-2 Secret Police in the town square of Gachalá (Cundinamarca). 

Bernardo Helí Acosta Rojas and his brother Manuel Dario Acosta Rojas disappeared on September 15, 1982 in the marketplace of Gachalá, who were captured by an F-2 patrol, commanded by police lieutenant Jairo Otálora Durán. After their detention and forced disappearance, they were loaded onto a helicopter bound for the village of Murcas.

The memory of the victims

Therefore, the victims express their deep pain and despair, after 39 years without knowing the whereabouts of their sons, brothers, fathers, cousins, nephews, nieces, and relatives who are currently missing, and without a conviction against the police high commanders responsible for this chilling crime.

The families of Pedro Pablo Silva Bejarano, Orlando García Villamizar, Alfredo Rafael Sanjuan Arévalo, Samuel Humberto Sanjuan Arévalo, Rodolfo Espitia, Edgar Helmut García Villamizar, Gustavo Campos Guevara, Hernando Ospina Rincón, Rafael Guillermo Prado Useche, Edilbrando Joya Gómez, Bernardo Helí Acosta Rojas, Manuel Darío Acosta Rojas and the organizations that have accompanied them for 39 years, we are still waiting for the possibility that the State, in the different judicial investigation processes, will demand the truth from those responsible for their detention and forced disappearance who are still alive: What did they do with our relatives? Where are they? What was the fate of each one of them? Where are their bodies? To have the possibility of recovering them, to return them to their physical and spiritual space in each home and to give them the recognition of their rights.

They should be returned to us alive, because they were taken alive.

Years of Impunity during the criminal process

In a decision of the Supreme Court of Justice of June 22, 2011, this High Court decided on the review action brought by the 53rd Prosecutor’s Office of the Human Rights Unit (at that time), in relation to the final closure of the investigation issued in 1987 by an Inspector General of the National Police in the capacity of Judge in first degree in favor of the defendants. The Court’s decision left without effect the decision of closure and therefore, the opening of the investigation against the members of the National Police involved in the crime was ordered. Since that date, a series of activities such as inquiries and evidence were started, but without any favorable results for the victims, since more than 10 years have passed since the reactivation of the investigation.

It was not until 2021 that the 52nd Specialized Prosecutor’s Office against Human Rights Violations (DECVDH), in an order dated November 2, 2021, summonsed former Lieutenant Colonel NACIN YANINE DIAZ as head of DIPEC at the time of the events, Major ERNESTO CONDIA GARZÓN and Agent LUIS ERNESTO SUAREZ CEBALLOS, in the same sense.

It is hoped that with the reactivation of the process these people will be brought to trial and later convicted, that the truth of the facts will be clarified and that their families will receive the justice they have longed for for almost 40 years.

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