The Guardian | 6/10/2010 12:00:00 AM
Colombian ex-army officer jailed for disappearances 25 years ago
June 10--Luis Alfonso Plazas sentenced to 30 years after 11 people were allegedly tortured and killed after witnessing military brutality.
Retired colonel Luis Alfonso Plazas was the commander of the Bogotá cavalry school, which led the military assault on the rebels. He is the first officer to be convicted over the siege.
Rebels from the M-19 guerrilla group seized the palace on 6 November 1985, taking hostages and demanding to hold a trial of then-president Belisario Betancur. Between the initial seizure and the end of the siege the following day, more than 100 people were killed, including the guerrillas and 11 of the 24 supreme court justices.
Eleven other people, many of them cafeteria workers, went missing, allegedly tortured and killed because they witnessed heavy-handed tactics by the army as it stormed the building.
Their disappearance led to investigations of the military operation and ultimately to Plazas' sentence, which was reported to journalists yesterday by Rafael Barrios, a lawyer for victims' families.
Relatives of the victims embraced and wept at the news.
Read more here.
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