Amnesty International today expressed its concern over the safety of Judge María Cristina Trejos Salazar after President Juan Manuel Santos appeared to question the validity of her decision to convict a retired army general for serious human rights violations.
On 28 April, the judge sentenced retired general Jesús Armando Arias Cabrales to 35 years in prison for his role in the enforced disappearance of 11 people in November 1985, when military forces stormed the Palace of Justice in Bogotá where members of the M-19 guerrilla group were holding those inside hostage. Over 100 people died as a result of the siege and the military operation.
Following the verdict, on 30 April President Santos reportedly said that there was no proof that retired general Cabrales had “any direct relationship with the alleged crimes committed during the taking of the Palace of Justice” and that the conviction was not “healthy for the country”.
In June 2010, another judge sentenced retired colonel Luis Alfonso Plazas Vega to 30 years in prison for his role in the same crime. Both convictions are under appeal.