Hours later, after a military raid, the incident left almost half of the 25 Supreme Court Justices dead. The military's role in the siege has been described as a holocaust and massacre by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Jorge Medina - a witness located in the basement at the start of the siege - said that "suddenly, the guerrillas entered the basement in a truck.
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They opened fire with their machine guns against everyone who was there". The M lost one guerrilla and a nurse during the initial raid on the building.
In the meantime many hostages took refuge in empty offices on the first floor, where they hid until around 2 pm. The assailants took people hostage, including the 24 justices and 20 other judges. The first hostage the guerrilla group asked for was the Supreme Court Justice and President of the Constitutional Court, then called Sala Constitucional , Manuel Gaona Cruz ,  who was in charge of delivering the opinion of the court with regard to the constitutionality of the extradition treaty between Colombia and the United States.
About three hours after the initial seizure, army troops rescued about hostages  from the lower three floors of the building; the surviving gunmen and remaining hostages occupied the upper two floors.
A recording was delivered to a radio station soon after the seizure, saying that the M group had taken over the building "in the name of peace and social justice". The president refused and ordered an emergency cabinet session. The M rebels freed State Councillor Reynaldo Arciniegas at am, with a message for the government to allow the entry of the Red Cross and initiate dialogue. However, the assault on the Palace of Justice commenced later that morning.
After surrounding the building with EE-9 Cascavel armored cars and soldiers with automatic weapons, they stormed the building sometime after 2 pm. The EE-9s knocked down the building's massive doorway, and even made some direct hits against the structure's external walls. The official version of the attack holds that, in an effort to complete one of the two objectives they had assaulted the palace for, the M guerrillas burnt different criminal records containing proof and warrants against many members of the group.
It is also believed, but argued whether they also burnt records against Pablo Escobar , one of the nation's biggest drug traffickers at the time. The results of the tests carried out later by ballistics experts and investigators demonstrated the most likely cause to have been the recoil effect of the army's rockets.
Tests proved that if fired by a soldier standing within twenty feet of wood-lined walls of the library that housed Colombian legal archives, the intense heat generated by the rocket's rear blast could have ignited the wooden paneling. In any event, in a shelved area stacked high with old papers, files, books, and newspapers, the quantity of explosives used by the military virtually guaranteed a conflagration.
The fire lasted about 2 days, even with efforts from firemen to try to smother the flames. An investigated theory to the "disappearance" of the missing entities in the siege is that they were charred in the fire, and were not able to be identified in any way, and without having been found, these entities are regarded as missing in action.
This theory is still being studied in the different trials of the case. More than people died during the final assault on the Palace. After the raid, another Supreme Court justice died in a hospital after suffering a heart attack. The siege of the Palace of Justice and the subsequent raid was one of the deadliest attacks in Colombia in its war with leftist rebels. The M group was still a potent force after the raid, but was severely hampered by the deaths of five of its leaders.
In March , it signed a peace treaty with the government. After the siege, firemen rushed to the site of the assault and smothered the few flames left in the palace.
Other rescue groups assisted with removing debris and rubble left after the siege. President Betancur went on national TV on the night of the 7th, saying he took full responsibility for the "terrible nightmare"; He offered condolences to the families of those who died—civilians and rebels alike—and said he would continue to look for a peaceful solution with the rebels.
Exactly a week later, on 14 November, he would offer condolences for another tragedy: the eruption of the Nevado del Ruiz volcano , which killed 25, people in the Armero tragedy. Colombia's Armed Forces did not have antiterrorist units specifically trained for urban operations before the siege, and some partially blamed the final outcome on the relative inexperience of the personnel assigned to the task.
The twelve magistrates killed were: .
Shortly after the siege, the U. Author Ana Carrigan , who quoted the June report in her book on the siege and originally dismissed any such links between the M and the drug mafia, told Cromos magazine in late that she now believes that the mafia may have financially supported the M Pablo Escobar's son claimed that while his father did not come up with or plan the raid, he did pay M a million dollars because he "believed in the ideals" of M and "looked for ways to preserve and support them".
On the same day of the siege, the Supreme Court's docket apparently called for the beginning of pending deliberations on the constitutionality of the Colombia-United States extradition treaty. The M was publicly opposed to extradition on nationalist grounds.
Several of the magistrates had been previously threatened by drug lords in order to prevent any possibility of a positive decision on the treaty. One year after the siege, the treaty was declared unconstitutional. Congressman Gustavo Petro , a former M guerrilla, has denied these accusations and dismissed them as based upon the inconsistent testimonies of drug lords. Petro says that the surviving members of the M do admit to their share of responsibility for the tragic events of the siege, on behalf of the entire organization, but deny any links to the drug trade.
Later investigations and commentators have considered both the M and the military as responsible for the deaths of the justices and civilians inside the building.
Some have blamed President Belisario Betancur for not taking the necessary actions or for failing to negotiate, and others have commented on the possibility of a sort of de facto "hour coup", during which the military was in control of the situation.
The book also asserts that, after the siege was over, some twenty-eight bodies were dumped into a mass grave and apparently soaked with acid, in order to make identification difficult. Carrigan argued that the bodies of the victims of the Nevado del Ruiz volcano eruption, which buried the city of Armero and killed more than 20, people, were dumped into the same mass grave, making any further forensic investigations impractical.
Despite numerous investigations and lawsuits to date, impunity prevailed for most of the subsequent decades. Ana Carrigan asserted in her book that "Colombia has moved on Colombia has forgotten the Palace of Justice siege", in much the same way that, in her opinion, Colombians have also forgotten or adopted a position of denial towards other tragic events, such as the Santa Marta Massacre.
No definite responsibility has been fixed on the government or on the surviving members of the M movement who were pardoned after they demobilized. It is suspected [ by whom? It has been speculated [ by whom? Carrigan says Franco was seen by several hostages.
She also states that the guerrilla left with several hostages and was never seen again.
One week after the siege, M released a communique to the press claiming that six leaders, including Franco, and "seven other fighters" had all been "disappeared and murdered" by the army. From the tapes of the military and police inter-communications it is known that army intelligence arrested at least seventeen people in the course of the two-day siege. The events surrounding the Palace of Justice siege received renewed media coverage in Colombia during the 20th anniversary of the tragedy.
Among other outlets, the country's main daily El Tiempo , the weekly El Espectador , and the Cromos magazine published several articles, interviews and opinion pieces on the matter, including stories about the survivors, as well as the plight of the victims' relatives and those of the missing.
The Supreme Court created a Truth Commission in order to investigate the siege. Former Col. In May , former Col. He accepted that he could have received the order to cover the exit of some hostages from the Palace of Justice. On July 11, , Virginia Vallejo , the television anchorwoman who was romantically involved with Pablo Escobar from to and author of "Amando a Pablo, odiando a Escobar" Loving Pablo, Hating Escobar ,  was asked to testify in the reopened case of the siege of the Palace of Justice, in order to confirm events that she had described in her memoir, in the chapter "That Palace in Flames", in pages to In , retired Colonel Alfonso Plazas Vega was sentenced to 30 years of jail time for his alleged role in forced disappearances after the siege.
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He announced his intention of seeking changes to the way military are judged in Colombia and asked for jail time for those he called the "instigators" of the massacre.
Nevertheless, Colombia's General Attorney has declared that crimes against humanity took place during the siege, which has allowed for the continued processing of another colonel and one general involved in the incident.
She and her family had to live under heavy surveillance for the duration of the trial. On December 16, Colonel Plazas Vega was declared innocent in a five to three vote by the Colombian Supreme Court and absolved of his previous year prison sentence.
The declaration was influenced by a revisiting of the case in the Supreme Court when the validity of testimonies of 4 witnesses came into question, along with absence of conclusive evidence to prove guilt in the charges brought again Plazas Vega.
Palace of Justice siege
Chiquita From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Redirected from Toma del Palacio de Justicia. Palace of Justice siege Part of Colombian armed conflict. Colombian conflict.
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Latin America Bureau. History Channel. Event occurs at Retrieved March 15, — via YouTube. Archived from the original on 16 December Retrieved 16 December Retrieved 16 December — via YouTube. Libro Blanco. Commission of Truth. Legis, 6 de Noviembre de Holocausto en el silencio in Spanish. Editorial Planeta.