Called to Trial

Miércoles 13 de mayo de 2009, por Prensa - Colectivo

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Jorge Noguera, former DAS director and the president’s right hand, has been called to trial for the homicides of trade unionists, human rights defenders, and politicians who denounced the pact between paramilitarism and the political class in Colombia.

Impunity has begun to fracture. Now we must hope the impending trial against Jorge Aurelio Noguera Cotes, former director of the DAS, [1] is surrounded with the proper guarantees for due process and respect for the victims’ rights to truth, justice, and reparation.

Colombian Attorney General Mario Iguarán Arana has just recognized the criminal responsibility of Mr. Noguera for the homicides of trade unionists, human rights defenders, and politicians who denounced the pact between paramilitarism and the political class in Colombia. The Attorney General also recognized that during his administration the DAS [2] was put to the service of paramilitarism in Colombia, as had been expressly requested by the representatives of the civil party, attorneys from the Corporación Colectivo de Abogados José Alvear Restrepo, José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective.

Unfortunately, the representative of the Procurator General’s Office requested the investigations on the homicides be closed, that is it did not examine the abundant evidence of the prosecution against Mr. Noguera with respect to his responsibility for the homicides of trade unionists, human rights defenders and politicians who denounced the pact between paramilitarism and the political class in Colombia

Consequently, Mr. Noguera Cotes must face the charge of Aggravated Conspiracy to Commit a Crime, since he encouraged, promoted, financed and carried out activities jointly with paramilitarism. He must also face the charge of Aggravated Homicides for the murders of human rights defender Alfredo Correa D’Andreis, trade unionists Ms. Zully Esther Condina and Adán Pacheco, and the politician and sociologist Fernando Pisciotti Van Strahen, who denounced the pact between paramilitarism and the political class in Colombia. Furthermore, he was also charged with the crimes of Improper Use of Classified or Secret Information, when he provided intelligence information to paramilitarism, and Destruction, Suppression or Concealment of Public Document, when he eliminated the background records and other information on paramilitaries “and” drug traffickers. Lastly he was charged with Abuse of Authority by both Arbitrary and Unjust Act, as he removed multiple DAS officials who carried out actions to persecute paramilitarism, and Misappropriation and Bribery, as he charged and received percentages in the form of sums of money sent to paramilitarism, which were illicit commissions taken from the contracting at the DAS.

Jorge Noguera Cotes was the director of the DAS from September 2002 to October 2005. Then, he was appointed consul in Milan, Italy, but had to return to Colombia to be prosecuted for grave crimes. Later, he was initially detained on February 22, 2007, but was released by way of a Habeas Corpus granted by the Superior Council of the Judicature on March 23, 2007. On July 6, 2007, Jorge Noguera was arrested for the second time and called to trial on February 1, 2008, for the crimes of Aggravated Conspiracy to Commit a Crime [3], in conjunction with Improper Use of Classified or Secret Information, and Abuse of Authority by Both Arbitrary and Unjust Act, as the investigation continued for Homicides. However, during the trial stage on June 12, 2008, the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice overruled the measure because Attorney General Mario Iguarán did not directly carry out the investigation and therefore the Court ordered his immediate release from prison. Abiding by the Supreme Court’s decision, the Attorney General newly opened an investigation against Mr. Noguera Cotes, summoned him to provide a statement, and examined dozens of pieces of new evidence that continues to demonstrate his criminal responsibility. As a result, he ordered Noguera’s preventive detention and he was newly detained on December 12, 2008. Presently he is being held at the La Picota Central Penitentiary in Bogotá, Colombia. Lastly, due to the irrefutable evidence concerning his intervention in the previously mentioned homicides, on May 6, 2009, the Attorney General’s Office presents criminal charges against him as the co-perpetrator of the investigated conduct.

It has been proven a criminal structure was established over the legal apparatus of the DAS –at its most senior levels- with the arrival of Jorge Aurelio Noguera Cotes. It has also been proven that, through the use of his public privileges, Noguera provided the necessary contribution for paramilitary actions, including both that deployed on behalf of the “counterinsurgency war,” which actually has been a persecution of the civilian population, as that concerning the definitive taking of power, as seen in the proven events of the so-called “Pact of Ralito.” [4]

It has been proven Jorge Noguera placed persons in key positions within the DAS to be functional for his crimes. As such, they were members of the Organized Power Structure he partially controlled as the director of the DAS. This included those persons, among other matters, helped finance the paramilitary structure, as it has been proven Noguera had committed to giving the paramilitary Northern Bloc a commission of between 5% to 10% of all the contracting at the DAS.

Up to now, the most representative members of this criminal structure have been detained and charged with the crime of aggravated conspiracy to commit a crime; while others, like the paramilitary Rodrigo Tovar Pupo, aka Jorge 40, have been extradited. Meanwhile, the Attorney General’s Office has decided to certify the respective copies so that some of the persons who have remained unpunished may be criminally investigated.

It has been proven Jorge Noguera belongs to this group of politicians and public figures who have had ties with paramilitaries. He is also from the Department of Magdalena, which has become one of the departments most affected by the relationships between members of congress and paramilitarism. [5] Moreover, Noguera Cotes’s criminal responsibility has been substantiated through many witnesses, in addition to Rafael García, who prove his criminal conduct. There are also more than 50 thousand pages of documents, reports, and rulings, conclusively demonstrate Noguera’s responsibility as the perpetrator of the crimes for which he is being investigated.

It is proven that over the last ten years more than 60% of the trade unionists murdered in the world were murdered in Colombia. It is also proven that there is rampant anti-union violence, in addition to violence committed against human rights defenders. Furthermore, several DAS officials have recognized trade unionists were the object of “intelligence work” and this information was included in their databases and put on lists Noguera gave to paramilitaries. Later, these same persons were in fact the object of threats, forced displacement, murder, and forced disappearances.

In this respect, the DAS gave Rodrigo Tovar Pupo, aka Jorge 40, the lists that included, among others, the names of professor, member of the teachers union, ASPU, and social leader Alfredo Correa D’Andreis; the journalist and a trade union leader in the health industry Zully Codina, and Liberal party politician and sociologist Fernando Pisciotti Van Strahlen. Later, these persons were murdered, as recognized by the paramilitary Edgar Ignacio Fierro Flórez, aka Don Antonio. Furthermore, over years, these persons were also the objects of surveillance and intelligence reports on their personal lives and social and work-related activities. The trade unions ANTHOC, CUT – Bolívar Chapter, USO, and other local trade unions, were also mentioned in these reports found at the DAS. This activity is the initial phase to the dirty war. In short, the activists Alfredo Correa D’Andreis, Zully Codina, Adán Pacheco, and the politician Fernando Pisciotti were victims of counter-insurgency policies based on the notion of the “internal enemy” and “political war” against social organizations and trade unions. These policies were implemented through the organized power structure over which Jorge Noguera Cotes had direct control and related to a plan to exterminate trade unionists and opposition leaders to be executed by members of paramilitary groups within DAS.

It is proven the DAS created false intelligence reports and manipulated reintegrated combatants, who were nothing more than paramilitaries or false witnesses, in order to criminally investigate and prosecute the professor Alfredo Correa D’Andreis, member of the teachers’ union, ASPU. Later, Mr. Correa D’Andreis was released after the baseless prosecution failed. With these same intelligence reports, Rodrigo Tovar Pupo, aka Jorge 40, and Edgar Ignacio Fierro Flórez, aka Don Antonio, proceeded to murder this person, which is similar to the situation other social leaders as in the case of Adán Pacheco.

Considering there is a file with more than 50 thousand pages containing much grave and conclusive evidence for the prosecution, which is not limited to the testimony provided by Rafael García Torres, the Supreme Court of Justice should be surrounded with the guarantees needed to apply justice. It is important to remember Jorge Noguera Cotes put the DAS to the service of paramilitarism. He financed them and provided them with information. He also eliminated background records, arrest warrants, and extradition requests against its members. Lastly, he supported the commission of homicides against those considered opposition. All of these actions were committed by Noguera Cotes, as he belonged to paramilitarism and took advantage of his position as the director of the DAS.

According to the ILO, Colombia has the highest murder rate of trade unionists in the world. Consequently, when Jorge Noguera was called to trial for these grave and painful crimes, as one of the most responsible persons, it is only a first step to ending impunity.

We also consider it fundamental that progress be made in determining the criminal responsibility of the other members of the organized power structure of the DAS and paramilitarism. Moreover, it is important the victims may actively participate in the trial and not be hindered in intervening as witnesses in the case. Lastly, the position of the Attorney General’s Office should remain consistent with the determinations in the indictment, as these determinations are logical, legitimate, and fair with respect to matters proven in the case against Noguera Cotes.

We are still waiting for a definitive historical decision that allows demonstrating whether or not progress may be made in overcoming impunity in Colombia and in bringing to trial domestically those who are most responsible for the grave crimes committed against trade unionists in Colombia, which would consequently dignify the victims and Colombian society.

call for solidarity
llamado de solidaridad

Notas

[1The Administrative Department of Security (DAS) depends directly on the Office of the President of the Republic. It is the principal Colombian intelligence agency and has criminal investigation powers. The DAS also undertakes the “protection” of senior public servants and persons under threat, as for example trade unionists, leaders from indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities, human rights defenders, journalists, and persons from the political opposition, among others.

[2The Administrative Department of Security (DAS) depends directly on the Office of the President of the Republic. It is the principal Colombian intelligence agency and has criminal investigation powers. The DAS also undertakes the “protection” of senior public servants and persons under threat, as for example trade unionists, leaders from indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities, human rights defenders, journalists, and persons from the political opposition, among others.

[3The crime of aggravated conspiracy to commit a crime has been the classification for paramilitarism since the criminal code was reformed in 2000 and penal classifications making express reference to the term “paramilitarism” were eliminated.

[4The ‘Pact of Ralito’ was the first documented evidence known concerning the formal alliances between the political class in Colombia and paramilitarism. This agreement in particular concerned the commitments acquired in the meeting of July 23, 2001, which was convened by the paramilitary chiefs Salvatore Mancuso Gómez, Diego Fernando Murillo Bejarano, aka Don Berne, Rodrigo Tovar Pupo, aka Jorge 40, and Edward Cobo Téllez, aka Diego Vecino. Furthermore, 29 politicians from the Caribbean coast also asserted their intention of ‘refounding our country’ and establishing ‘a new social contract.”

[5According to follow-up carried out by the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective, 14 members and former members of congress have been implicated in these ties, which is the totality of representatives elected for the 2006 – 2010 legislative period. Of these 14 members and former members of congress, 9 are presently under detention, 4 have pled guilty to the charges, and 2 have been convicted for their relations with paramilitary structures. Furthermore, it should also be mentioned the former mayor of Santa Marta, José Francisco Zúñiga Riascos, who was convicted for the crimes of aggravated conspiracy to commit a crime and coercion of voters, and the former governor of Magdalena, Trino Luna Correa, who was convicted for the crime of aggravated conspiracy to commit a crime for his relations with paramilitary chiefs Rodrigo Tovar Pupo, aka Jorge 40, and Hernan Giraldo Serna, among others.

Afiliaciones

Afiliado a la Federación Internacional de Derechos Humanos
y la Organización Mundial contra la Tortura
Estatus Consultivo en la OEA

José Alvear Restrepo

Nace en Medellín el 1 de julio de 1913 en el seno de una familia de profundas convicciones religiosas y bajo los parámetros de la ideología del partido conservador. Realiza sus estudios en la Facultad de Derecho de la Universidad de Antioquia, donde se gradúa de Abogado con una brillante tesis titulada: "Conflictos del trabajo: la huelga"

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