June 12, 2021
On the afternoon of June 11, 2021, following the hearings scheduled to provide testimony on the case of the Massacre of Mondoñedo, which took place over a two-week period within the preliminary proceedings for the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), Yessika Hoyos Morales, member of the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective (CAJAR), received the following two text messages :
“Motherfucking Guerrilla Fighter Asking ‘Bout Things That Don’t Matter to You That’s Why We Got More Gas to Burn You Like We Did Your Dead Son That’s What’s Waiting For You You Old Motherfucking Snitch”
“Keep Snitching And You’ll End Up Dead ‘Cause You’re Defending Guerrilla Fighters”
Mr. Alfonso Mora León, the father of Jenner Alfonso Mora Moncaleano, a victim of the Massacre of Mondoñedo, who is represented by Yessika Hoyos Morales, also received these same text messages. Mr. Mora, who in the past has been the target of harassment and other serious threats, took part in the victims delegations participating in the meetings held in Havana, Cuba, as part of the peace dialogues with the former guerrilla group FARC-EP. Likewise, he has been a tireless advocate for truth, justice, peace and guarantees for the non-repetition of such horrific acts as those subjected upon his son.
The massacre of Mondoñedo, which was perpetrated by members of the national police (DIJIN) on September 6 and 7 of 1996, resulted in the deaths of the university students Vladimir Zambrano, Arquímedes Moreno, Jenner Alfonso Mora Moncaleano, and Juan Carlos Palacio Gómez. On September 7, 1996, the students’ bodies were found in the city dump in the town of Mondoñedo, located on the Hacienda “Fute”, near the road from Mosquera to Soacha. Martín Alonso Valdivieso and Federico Quesada, who were from the districts of Fontibón and Kennedy in Bogotá, were also murdered.
Allegedly through the use of witnesses, a unit from the DIJIN had previously identified these students as members of the Antonio Nariño urban network of the FARC guerrilla group. In 1995, this guerrilla unit set off an explosive device in the police station located in the district of Kennedy, Bogotá, which resulted in the death of three members of the police. This police unit took matters into their own hands and murdered the students and incinerated their bodies to evade their recognition. It is for that reason the threat stated they would “burn” him like they did his son.
On August 3, 2001, one of the implicated agents, William Chitiva, pleaded guilty to the charges and asked for forgiveness from the family members. In 2007, William Chitiva, along with his family, was murdered. To date, these crimes have remained unpunished.
In November 2018, Major (r) Héctor Castro, Captain (r) Carlos Niño, First Sergeant (r) Néstor Barrera, First Corporal (r) Pablo Salazar, First Corporal (r) Hernando Villalba, Agent (r) Milton Marino, Agent (r) Carlos Alfonso, and Agent (r) Filemón Fabra, all of whom had been convicted to 40 years of prison in the ordinary criminal jurisdiction in 2013 and 2017, availed themselves of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) and, consequently, for their early release from prison. During the proceedings for this jurisdiction, Yessika Hoyos Morales, who is a member of CAJAR representing the Mora Moncaleano family, “requested details relating to whether there existed a criminal network behind these crimes, which later resulted in the murder of a witness and his family, and the threats against the victim’s family members and a prosecutor assigned to the case,” according to an official JEP press release.
In October 2020, during an interview with the newspaper El Espectador, Senator Julián Gallo, from the political party Comunes, and former commander with the guerrilla group FARC-EP, asserted that two of the victims of the massacre of Mondoñedo had participated in the murder of Senator Álvaro Gómez Hurtado. This revelation changed the course of the investigation, which had previously focused its attention on former president Ernesto Samper as the intellectual author of this crime, a line of investigation defended by Colombia’s governing party and the family of Álvaro Gómez Hurtado.
This is the second time a member of CAJAR has received this type of threat that is also directed against a victim the lawyer represents during proceedings within the framework of the transitional justice system. On the prior occasion, Juan David Díaz, the son of Tito Eudaldo Díaz, and Sebastián Escobar Uribe, an attorney with CAJAR, also received the threats by telephone.
These types of attacks are part of a systematic practice perpetrated against members of CAJAR who have represented victims in these and other cases. Even though national authorities have been notified of these acts, the issue has also been presented to Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which currently has a case under review relating to the persecution faced by this human rights organization.
Consequently, we demand the following actions:
The Colombian Government must strongly condemn the threats and accusations made against victims and human rights defenders, as these acts have increased their risk within the context constructing the historical truth experienced in Colombia. Likewise, the government’s protection unit (UNP) must strengthen the physical measures of protection for the Mora Moncaleano family and the lawyer Yessika Hoyos Morales.
The Colombian Prosecutor’s Office must carry out a prompt and effective investigation into the origin of these threats and others received by this lawyer as part of her work in other cases where she also represents victims of State crimes.
The Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) must take into account this serious security incident when it assesses the set of conditions for the police agents availing themselves of the conditional release and favorable criminal treatment, granted by this jurisdiction. Likewise, the JEP must adopt the necessary measures to safeguard the privacy of the personal data of the victims and their advocates before this system.
We will also inform the Inter-American Court of Human Rights of this latest threat of violence made against victims and members of CAJAR, within the framework of the case against the Colombian state for the persecution against the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective.