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A complaint will be filed against the Judge that sent 13 social activists to prison in Bogota, Colombia, after they were arrested on July 8. This will be done by the lawyer of one of the activists after finding out that the judge met with a high rank of the Police in her office, a few minutes before yesterday´s hearing.
Lawyer Gloria Silva, Paola Salgado´s attorney, said that she will file a complaint against the Judge for breach of public duty. She is also considering the possibility of filing the case to international organizations in order to take precautionary measures against this type of serious irregularities.
But the irregularities are not new to this case. The news outlet Colombia Informa stated that 20 days have passed between the arrest of the activists and yesterday´s hearing. Eleven of the activists are members of the social and political movement Peoples´ Congress.
They were first accused of being responsible for attempting against financial entity Porvenir with explosives. Then, they were linked with an urban network of the left-wing guerrilla National Liberation Army (ELN) and finally they were accused of participating in riots at the National University.
Under this last accusation, the judge decided to apply on them an “assurance measure” (sending them to prison) for considering them “a danger to society”.
Colombia Informa reported that the judge considered that the evidence submitted by prosecutor Ana Patricia Larrota, who demanded the incarceration of the activists, was sufficiently strong so as to make a conclusion. She said: “They are co-authors of the crimes under investigation. There is enough evidence to link them. Here, the crimes are not small since they represent a danger for society”.
In addition, the judge made reference to the youth and the jobs of some of the people arrested (human rights defenders, student leaders and a journalist) to use them as aggravating circumstances, since she considered that they are a bad example.
The judicial ruling was immediately appealed by the defense attorneys, who considered that the arguments were not solid enough to explain the ruling and denounced the presence of several irregularities in the process.
According to El Espectador newspaper, Gloria Silva said that it´s striking that the Judge met with a police officer just minutes before sending the thirteen activists to prison. The lawyer warned that there is an evident pressure by the Policy and its “higher ranks”. “They have influenced the decisions in a negative way”, she said.
Silva considered that there wasn´t enough evidence to listen to the General Prosecutor´s request to send them to prison, and insisted on the fact that this is a case of criminalization of the social protest. “The decision to send them to prison waiting for trial has affected them very much. Prison is not a place for people who have contributed so much to society”, said the lawyer.
The Peoples´ Congress plans to have a press conference today to denounce the irregularities of what they refer to as a “judicial false positive”. “False positives” were known in Colombia as the murders of innocent civilians by the Army to pass as guerrilla people dead in combat in the framework of the internal armed conflict during Alvaro Uribe´s administration, while today´s president, Juan Manuel Santos, was Defense Minister. The People´s Congress also plans to resort to international organizations for them to intervene in the case.
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