Chaparro, Huber Pérez, Alvaro Camargo, Rubén Pineda, Gilberto Ortiz, Reinaldo Corso Vargas,
Hernán Jáuregui, Juan Bautista, Alberto Gómez, Luis Sauza, Juan Montero, and Ferney
Fernández, all merchants, were travelling in a caravan, in several vehicles, from the city of
Cúcuta, department of Norte de Santander, to the city of Medellín, department of Antioquia.
When they reached the "El Diamante" farm, in the municipality of Puerto Boyacá, department
of Boyacá, they were stopped by the shooting of firearms, alleged to come from a military
check-point. The alleged victims are then said to have been forced to take a detour along
another road, where they were intercepted and held by a paramilitary group that allegedly
operated in coordination with members of the National Army 1 and which is alleged to have
taken control of their vehicles and merchandise. There has been no news as to their
whereabouts since that time.
9. The petitioners state that the family members of the alleged victims reported the occurrence
to the authorities immediately. Nonetheless, neither the Bárbula Battalion of the Army nor the
Police at Puerto Boyacá or Puerto Araujo took any action to determine the whereabouts of the
17 merchants allegedly disappeared. As a result, in subsequent days the victims' families
organized several search parties. The groups that went to Puerto Araujo were allegedly
intercepted near the "El Diamante" farm, where they allegedly received death threats from the
same paramilitary group. 2 On October 18, 1987, Messrs. Juan Montero, the brother-in-law of
one of the disappeared merchants, and Ferney Fernández were taken by members of the
paramilitary groups in the vicinity of that farm; to date, their whereabouts remain unknown.
10. In terms of the investigations in the domestic jurisdiction, petitioners note that on October
27, 1987, the Eighth Judge of Criminal Investigation of Cimitarra allegedly initiated an
investigation into the victims' disappearance. They allege that despite the statements of
several witnesses and other evidence as to who was responsible for the acts and the place
where the merchants were supposedly executed and their vehicles destroyed, the judicial
authorities did not carry out the judicial inspection required to clear up the facts and collect the
victims' corpses. They allege that the evidence points to members of the National Army and of
the above-noted paramilitary group as the persons responsible for the disappearances of the
19 merchants. The investigation was in the hands of the Office of the Regional Prosecutor of
Cúcuta, yet no one was called to testify. On March 31, 1995, the Office of the Regional
Prosecutor handed down called a number of civilians to testify and issued arrest warrants.3 In
September 1995, the investigation was transferred to the Human Rights Unit of the Office of
the Prosecutor-General. 4 On April 9, 1996, Army Major Oscar de Jesús Echandía Sánchez and
Sergeant Otoniel Hernández Arciniegas were called to testify. The sergeant was arrested and
placed at the disposal of the Human Rights Unit. On May 29, 1996, an arrest warrant was
1 The petitioners allege that the merchants were executed on the "El Diamante" farm, owned at the time by Mr. Henry
Pérez, according to a report drawn up by the Intelligence Unit of the Departamento Administrativo de Seguridad
(DAS), May 10, 1988.
2The petitioners allege that the DAS report indicates that at the time of the events the paramilitary group under the
command of Henry de Jesús Pérez, owner of "El Diamante," totally controlled the sector that includes parts of the
municipalities of Puerto Boyacá (department of Boyacá) and Puerto Berrío (Antioquia), and enjoyed the support of the
Association of Ranchers and Farmers of the Middle Magdalena Region (ACDEGAM: Asociación de Ganaderos y
Agricultores del Magdalena Medio), known drug-traffickers from the region, and the military commanders of the
National Army assigned to the Bárbula Battalion, as well as the members of the National Police at Puerto Boyacá and
Puerto Berrío, among other municipalities.
3 On March 31, 1995, the Office of the Regional Prosecutor of Cúcuta issued arrest warrants for the preventive
detention of Nelson Lesmes Leguiazón, Carlos Alberto Yepes Londoño, and Wilson de Jesús Pérez Durán, who were
arrested on June 5; the same decision was made with respect to Marcelino Panesso Ocampo, who was convicted of
perpetrating the La Rochela massacre of September 5, 1995, against Alonso de Jesús Baquero Agudelo.
4 On January 29, 1996, the investigation was partially closed with respect to Nelson Lesmes Leguiazón, Carlos Alberto
Yepes Londoño, Wilson de Jesús Pérez Durán, and Marcelino Panesso Ocampo. Jairo Iván Galvis Brochero was also
called to testify. On February 7, 1996, an arrest warrant was issued for Luis Alberto Arrieta Morales, for the crimes of
extorsive kidnapping, aggravated homicide, and an infraction of Article 2 of Decree 1194 of 1989 (crimes of
paramilitarism and paid assassination). He was held in the maximum security prison at Itagüí. On March 7, 1996, the
investigation concluded with an indictment of Carlos Alberto Yepes Londoño and Marcelino Panesso Ocampo, for the
crimes of extorsive kidnapping, aggravated homicide, and an infraction of Article 2 of Decree 1194 of 1989 (crimes of
paramilitarism and paid assassination), of Nelson Lesmes Leguiazón for the crimes of extorsive kidnapping and
aggravated homicide; and of Wilson de Jesús Pérez for violation of Article 2 of Decree 1194 of 1989 (crimes of
paramilitarism and paid assassination). On March 29, 1996, it was ordered that Waldo Patiño García and Robinson
Gutiérrez de la Cruz be called to testify. On May 14, 1996, Oscar de Jesús Echandía Sánchez, Jairo Iván Galvis
Brochero, Waldo Patiño García, and Robinson Gutiérrez de la Cruz were ordered to appear, and on May 25 they were
declared to be in absentia. On August 9, 1996, it was ordered that they be arrested and held in preventive detention.

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