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Friday, May 15, 2009

Jorge Noguera has been called to trial

Jorge Noguera, former DAS Director and the President’s Right Hand, has been:
 Called to Trial  

For the Homicides of Trade Unionists, Human Rights Defenders, and Politicians
who Denounced the Pact between Paramilitarism and the Political Class in Colombia.
Colectivo de Abogados “José Alvear Restrepo”
José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective

Bogotá, Colombia
May 13, 2009  
Impunity has begun to fracture. Now we must hope the impending trial against
Jorge Aurelio Noguera Cotes, former director of the DAS, [1] is surrounded with
the proper guarantees for due process and respect for the victims’ rights to
truth, justice, and reparation.
Colombian Attorney General Mario Iguarán Arana has just recognized the
criminal responsibility of Mr. Noguera for the homicides of trade unionists,
human rights defenders, and politicians who denounced the pact between
paramilitarism and the political class in Colombia. The Attorney General also
recognized that during his administration the DAS was put to the service of
paramilitarism in Colombia, as had been expressly requested by the
representatives of the civil party, attorneys from the Corporación Colectivo
de Abogados José Alvear Restrepo, José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective.
Unfortunately, the representative of the Procurator General’s Office requested
the investigations on the homicides be closed, that is it did not examine the
abundant evidence of the prosecution against Mr. Noguera with respect to his
responsibility for the homicides of trade unionists, human rights defenders
and politicians who denounced the pact between paramilitarism and the
political class in Colombia
Consequently, Mr. Noguera Cotes must face the charge of Aggravated Conspiracy
to Commit a Crime, since he encouraged, promoted, financed and carried out
activities jointly with paramilitarism. He must also face the charge of
Aggravated Homicides for the murders of human rights defender Alfredo Correa
D’Andreis, trade unionists Ms. Zully Esther Condina and Adán Pacheco, and the
politician and sociologist Fernando Pisciotti Van Strahen, who denounced the
pact between paramilitarism and the political class in Colombia. Furthermore,
he was also charged with the crimes of Improper Use of Classified or Secret
Information, when provided intelligence information to paramiltiarism, and
Destruction, Suppression or Concealment of Public Document, when he eliminated
the background records and other infromation on paramilitaries “and” drug
traffickers. Lastly he was charged with Abuse of Authority by both Arbitrary
and Unjust Act, as he removed multiple DAS officials who carried out actions
to persecute paramiltiarism, and Misappropriation and Bribery, as he charged
and received percentages in the form of sums of money sent to paramilitarism,
which were illicit commissions taken from the cntracting at the DAS.
Jorge Noguera Cotes was the director of the DAS from September 2002 to October
2005. Then, he was appointed consul in Milan, Italy, but had to return to
Colombia to be prosecuted for grave crimes. Later, he was initially detained
on February 22, 2007, but was released by way of a Habeas Corpus granted by
the Superior Council of the Judicature on March 23, 2007. On July 6, 2007,
Jorge Noguera was arrested for the second time and called to trial on February
1, 2008, for the crimes of Aggravated Conspiracy to Commit a Crime, [2] in
conjunction with Improper Use of Classified or Secret Information, and Abuse
of Authority by Both Arbitrary and Unjust Act, as the investigation continued
for Homicides. However, during the trial stage on June 12, 2008, the Criminal
Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice overruled the measure because Attorney
General Mario Iguarán did not directly carry out the investigation and
therefore the Court ordered his immediate release from prison. Abiding by the
Supreme Court’s decision, the Attorney General newly opened an investigation
against Mr. Noguera Cotes, summoned him to provide a statement, and examined
dozens of pieces of new evidence that continues to demonstrate his criminal
responsibility. As a result, he ordered Noguera’s preventive detention and he
was newly detained on December 12, 2008. Presently he is being held at the La
Picota Central Penitentiary in Bogotá, Colombia. Lastly, due to the
irrefutable evidence concerning his intervention in the previously mentioned
homicides, on May 6, 2009, the Attorney General’s Office presents criminal
charges against him as the co-perpetrator of the investigated conduct.
It has been proven a criminal structure was established over the legal
apparatus of the DAS –at its most senior levels- with the arrival of Jorge
Aurelio Noguera Cotes. It has also been proven that, through the use of his
public privileges, Noguera provided the necessary contribution for
paramilitary actions, including both that deployed on behalf of the
“counterinsurgency war,” which actually has been a persecution of the civilian
population, as that concerning the definitive taking of power, as seen in the
proven events of the so-called “Pact of Ralito.”  [3]
It has been proven Jorge Noguera placed persons in key positions within the
DAS to be functional for his crimes. As such, they were members of the
Organized Power Structure he partially controlled as the director of the DAS.
This included those persons, among other matters, helped finance the
paramilitary structure, as it has been proven Noguera had committed to giving
the paramilitary Northern Bloc a commission of between 5% to 10% of all the
contracting at the DAS.
Up to now, the most representative membrers of this criminal structure have
been detained and charged with the crime of aggravated conspiracy to commit a
crime; while others, like the paramilitary Rodrigo Tovar Pupo, aka Jorge 40,
have been extradited. Meanwhile, the Attorney General’s Office has decided to
certify the respective copies so that some of the persons who have remained
unpunished may be criminally investigated.  
It has been proven Jorge Noguera belongs to this group of politicians and
public figures who have had ties with paramilitaries. He is also from the
Department of Magdalena, which has become one of the departments most affected
by the relationships between members of congress and paramilitarism.  [4]
Moreover, Noguera Cotes’s criminal responsibility has been substantiated
through many witnesses, in addition to Rafael García, who prove his criminal
conduct. There are also more than 50 thousand pages of documents, reports, and
rulings, conclusively demonstrate Noguera’s responsibility as the perpetrator
of the crimes for which he is being investigated.
It is proven that over the last ten years more than 60% of the trade unionists
murdered in the world were murdered in Colombia. It is also proven that there
is rampant anti-union violence, in addition to violence committed against
human rights defenders. Furthermore, several DAS officials have recognized
trade unionists were the object of “intelligence work” and this information
was included in their databases and put on lists Noguera gave to
paramilitaries. Later, these same persons were in fact the object of threats,
forced displacement, murder, and forced disappearances.
In this respect, the DAS gave Rodrigo Tovar Pupo, aka Jorge 40, the lists that
included, among others, the names of professor, member of the teachers union,
ASPU, and social leader Alfredo Correa D’Andreis; the journalist and a trade
union leader in the health industry Zully Codina, and Liberal party politician
and sociologist Fernando Pisciotti Van Strahlen. Later, these persons were
murdered, as recognized by the paramilitary Edgar Ignacio Fierro Flórez, aka
Don Antonio. Furthermore, over years, these persons were also the object of
surveillance and intelligence reports on their personal lives and social and
work-related activities. The trade unions ANTHOC, CUT – Bolívar Chapter, USO,
and other local trade unions, were also mentioned in these reports found at
the DAS. This activity is the initial phase to the dirty war. In short, the
activists Alfredo Correa D’Andreis, Zully Codina, Adán Pacheco, and the
politician Fernando Pisciotti were victims of counter-insurgency policies
based on the notion of the “internal enemy” and “political war” against social
organizations and trade unions. These policies were implemented through the
organized power structure over which Jorge Noguera Cotes had direct control
and related to a plan to exterminate trade unionists and opposition leaders to
be executed by members of paramilitary groups within DAS.  
It is proven the DAS created false intelligence reports and manipulated
reintegrated combatants, who were nothing more than paramilitaries or false
witnesses, in order to criminally investigate and prosecute the professor
Alfredo Correa D’Andreis, member of the teachers’ union, ASPU. Later, Mr.
Correa D’Andreis was released after the baseless prosecution failed. With
these same intelligence reports, Rodrigo Tovar Pupo, aka Jorge 40, and Edgar
Ignacio Fierro Flórez, aka Don Antonio, proceeded to murder this person, which
is similar to the situation other social leaders as in the case of Adán Pacheco.
Considering there is a file with more than 50 thousand pages containing much
grave and conclusive evidence for the prosecution, which is not limited to the
testimony provided by Rafael García Torres, the Supreme Court of Justice
should be surrounded with the guarantees needed to apply justice. It is
important to remember Jorge Noguera Cotes put the DAS to the service of
paramilitarism. He financed them and provided them with information. He also
eliminated background records, arrest warrants, and extradition requests
against its members. Lastly, he supported the commission of homicides against
those considered opposition. All of these actions were committed by Noguera
Cotes, as he belonged to paramilitarism and took advantage of his position as
the director of the DAS.
According to the ILO, Colombia has the highest murder rate of trade unionists
in the world. Consequently, when Jorge Noguera was called to trial for these
grave and painful crimes, as one of the most responsible persons, it is only a
first step to ending impunity.
We also consider it fundamental that progress be made in determining the
criminal responsibility of the other members of the organized power structure
of the DAS and paramilitarism. Moreover, it is important the victims may
actively participate in the trial and not be hindered in intervening as
witnesses in the case. Lastly, the position of the Attorney General’s Office
should remain consistent with the determinations in the indictment, as these
determinations are logical, legitimate, and fair with respect to matters
proven in the case against Noguera Cotes.
We are still waiting for a definitive historical decision that allows
demonstrating whether or not progress may be made in overcoming impunity in
Colombia and in bringing to trial domestically those who are most responsible
for the grave crimes committed against trade unionists in Colombia, which
would consequently dignify the victims and Colombian society.

[1]  The Administrative Department of Security (DAS) depends directly on
the Office of the President of the Republic. It is the principal Colombian
intelligence agency and has criminal investigation powers. The DAS also
undertakes the “protection” of senior public servents and persons under threat,
as for example trade unionists, leaders from indigenous and Afro-Colombian
communities, human rights defenders, journalists, and persons from the
political opposition, among others.
[2] The crime of aggravated conspiracy to commit a crime has been the
classification for paramilitarism since the criminal code was reformed in 2000
and penal classifications making express reference to the term “paramilitarism”
were eliminated.

[3] The ‘Pact of Ralito’ was the first documented evidence known concerning
the formal alliances between the political class in Colombia and paramilitarism.
This agreement in particular concerned the committments acquired in the
meeting of July 23, 2001, which was convened by the paramilitary chiefs
Salvatore Mancuso Gómez, Diego Fernando Murillo Bejarano, aka Don Berna,
Rodrigo Tovar Pupo, aka Jorge 40, and Edward Cobo Téllez, aka Diego Vecino.
Furthermore, 29 politicians from the Caribbean coast also asserted their
intention of ‘refounding our country’ and establishing ‘a new social contract.”

[4] According to follow-up carried out by the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’
Collective, 14 members and former members of congress have been implicated
in these ties, which is the totality of representatives elected for the 2006 – 2010
legislative period. Of these 14 members and former members of congress, 9 are
presently under detention, 4 have pled guilty to the charges, and 2 have been
convicted for their relations with paramilitary structures. Furthermore, it should
also be mentioned the former mayor of Santa Marta, José Francisco Zúñiga
Riascos, who was convicted for the crimes of aggravated conspiracy to commit a
crime and coercion of voters,  and the former governor of Magdalena, Trino Luna
Correa, who was convicted for the crime of aggravated conspiracy to commit a
crime for his relations with paramilitary chiefs Rodrigo Tovar Pupo, aka Jorge 40,
and Hernan Giraldo Serna, among others.

Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI  53701-1505
phone:  (608) 257-8753
fax:  (608) 255-6621
e-mail:  csn@igc.org



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