Murder of Jhonny Silva

Lawyer Jorge Molano represents the relatives of Jhonny Silva, a student at Universidad del Valle, killed by members of the Police riot squad Escuadrón Móvil Antidisturbios (ESMAD) in 2005 during a student demonstration.[1] As yet, there have been no convictions in the case and in September 2016, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) admitted the case of Jhonny Silva, and a formal case against Colombia was initiated.[2]

In 2010, the Public Prosecutor brought the former sub-commander of the ESMAD to trial, Gabriel Bonilla Gonzalez who was ranked Major at that time (he is currently Colonel and commander of the ESMAD), but his conviction for the murder of Jhonny Silva was overturned on appeal.[3] In 2011, the Valle del Cauca Administrative Tribunal determined that the Nation, the Minister of Defence and the National Police were responsible for the student’s murder. The relatives have nonetheless appealed against the Tribunal’s decision and the case is currently with the Council of State.[4]

Molano also represents German Perdomo who was injured by the ESMAD during the same incident. In this case the courts declared that the case had prescribed and withdrew the charges against Colonel Bonilla González.[5]


[1] PBI Colombia: Interview with Jorge Molano, May 2012
[2] PBI Colombia: Interview with Jorge Molano, 29th August 2016; El Espectador: CIDH admitió caso de Jhonny Silva, estudiante que murió en una protesta, 22nd September 2016
[3] Caracol Radio: Acusan a Mayor de la Policía por muerte de estudiante de Univalle, 23rd January 2010
[4] Interview with Jorge Molano, 29th August 2016; Voz: Asesinato de Jhonny Silva Aranguren, nueve años de impunidad, 20th February 2015,
[5] PBI Colombia: Interview with Jorge Molano, 29th August 2016

* Cover photograph: a mural dedicated to Jhonny Silva at Valle University on the 11th anniversary of his death. The work “Justice… When? It’s been 11 years already” is by artists Kiwe and Somos

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