January 3, 1997, the Commission requested up-to-date information on the matter from the State. 5. On May 5, 1997, the Commission received a petition filed by ASFADDES, FEDEFAM, and the CCJ, regarding the same facts, alleging violations of the American Convention, and it began a new procedure under number 11.748. On May 7, 1997, the Commission informed the Colombian State that it had opened case 11.748, and gave it 90 days to answer the petition. On May 20, 1997, the State communicated with the IACHR in order to refer to the procedure initiated under number 10.566; in response, on May 28, 1997, the Commission informed both parties that the facts that are the subject of this matter would be consolidated and processed under file 11.748. On June 12, 1997, the petitioners provided additional information, which was sent to the State for observations on June 24, 1997. 6. On February 24, 1998, during the 98th session, a hearing was held in which the petitioners submitted additional information. On March 3, 1998, the Commission informed both parties that it was placing itself at their disposal to seek a friendly settlement, and gave them 30 days to respond. The State sought an extension, which was granted on April 16, 1998. On March 31, 2000, the Commission informed the state that the Center for Justice and International Law had joined the proceeding as co-petitioner. 7. On October 10, 2000, during its 108th session, the Commission held a hearing with the participation of both parties. On November 3, 2000, the Commission forwarded the information presented by the petitioners in the hearing to the State and gave them 30 days to submit observations. The State submitted its observations on December 5, 2000. III. THE PARTIES’ POSITIONS A. The petitioner’s position 8. The petitioners allege that in the evening of January 14, 1990, approximately 60 armed men, wearing uniforms, arrived at the district of Pueblo Bello, municipality of Turbo, department of Antioquia, in two trucks and forced their way into several homes and an evangelical church in search of its inhabitants. The armed men took several persons and forced them to lie face down in the main plaza, after which they selected 43 peasant farmers, bound and gagged them, and took them; they were never again seen alive. Before leaving in the direction of San Pablo de Urabá, the armed men set three buildings ablaze and stated to the inhabitants of Pueblo Bello: “this is so you’ll respect ‘los Tangueros,’” presumably referring to the paramilitary group directed at that time by Fidel Castaño, from the farm known as “Las Tangas,” situated on the banks of the Sinú river, in the department of Córdoba. 9. The information provided indicates that the paramilitary vehicles passed through two checkpoints guarded by the Vélez and Cóndor Battalions, without being detained or questioned. The petitioners allege that the 43 peasants forcibly taken were taken to the Santa Mónica farm in the department of Córdoba, where then-paramilitary leader Fidel Castaño was awaiting them. They state that the peasants were interrogated and brutally tortured there, their veins punctured, their eyes perforated, their ears sawed off, their genitalia mutilated. Finally they were executed, one by one. 10. On the issue of the responsibility of state agents, the petitioners allege first that the paramilitary offensive resulted from Army accusations against the peasants of Pueblo Bello. They allege that the members of the Army interpreted the passive attitude assumed by these peasants in response to an incident in which cattle was stolen from Fidel Castaño as a symbol of their alleged affiliation with the guerrillas. In addition, they allege that the authorities posted at the military bases and checkpoints at San Pedro de Urabá not only permitted the transit of the paramilitary vehicles, but also collaborated directly with the illegal armed group. According to the petitioners’ allegations, once the incident was over, members of the community of Pueblo Bello went to the military bases to request information as to the whereabouts of the persons disappeared, and allegedly later became targets of acts of intimidation. 2

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