Extrajudicial killings: the case of Rafael Andres Plata Sanchez

Equipo Jurídico Pueblos (EJP) represents the families of victims of State crimes, including extrajudicial executions which are misleadingly known as ‘false positives’, demanding truth, justice, integral reparation and guarantees of non-repetition from the State, as well as results in the investigations by the justice system.

One of the cases is that of Rafael Andres Plata Sanchez. According to evidence gathered in the investigation, this young man was detained and taken along with two others, Carlos Mauricio Nova Vega and another person who has not been named, (all three were from low-income households) from the centre of Bucaramanga (Santander) to the neighbourhood of Islitas in Hacari municipality (Northern Santander) where they were allegedly murdered by soldiers of the National Army’s Infantry Battalion No 15 ‘General Santander’ of the Fifth Brigade and their bodies were presented as guerrillas of the National Liberation Army (ELN), killed in combat.

For EJP, the case is especially important because the person who recruited the young men, Alexander Carretero, admitted his responsibility in their deaths.[1] In 2015 he plead guilty to being an accomplice to aggravated homicide. Mr Carretero has admitted his guilt for the same crime in other extrajucidial execution cases, including that of young Fair Leonardo Porras Bernal, a case in which six soldiers were found guilty.[2]

Nine soldiers were arrested for their alleged responsibility in materially carrying out the crime (one officer and eight soldiers), including William Ortiz Pineda, a former professional soldier who was part of a unit belonging to Battalion No.15 from Ocaña (Northern Santander).[3]

The case has yet to come to trial due to numerous delays (changes in the defence attorneys, defence attorneys being unable to attend, the accused not being transported to the Palace of Justice) and appeals.[4]

“Our work has been obstructed, including by the soldiers’ defence lawyers, with hostile defamatory smears being made against us in court and outside it. We are saddened to say that despite having shown results in the investigations, very few cases have ended in a guilty verdict. Most cases are in complete impunity. We are now very concerned to see that, in the cases which are transferred to the Special Peace Jurisdiction, the chain of command can be broken, which means that we will not be able to follow the chain up to the senior officers who are responsible for crimes which have been committed all around the country”,[5] warns Leonardo Jaimes, a member of the of the organization.[6]


[1] PBI Colombia, Interview with Leonardo Jaimes, founding member of EJP, October 2016; Lawyers without Borders Canada: Estudio de caso a la luz del principio de complementaridad del Estatuto de Roma. Mecanismos de impunidad en la Justicia colombiana, pp. 94-97, 2016
[2] Lawyers without Borders Canada, Ibíd, p. 95; El Tiempo: Víctimas de ‘falso positivo’ de Soacha continúan sin ser reparadas, 11th June 2015
[3] Lawyers without Borders Canada, Ibíd, p. 95; Fiscalía General de la Nación: CTI captura a exsoldado por homicidio en persona protegida, 22 May 2014; EJP: Capturado militar acusado de tres ejecuciones extrajudiciales en Bucaramanga, En: Ccajar, 23rd May 2014
[4] Lawyers without Borders Canada, Ibíd, p. 96
[5] PBI Colombia: Op cit., October 2016
[6] Ibíd.

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