|Date||July 15–20, 1997|
|Target||Civilians / presumed guerrillas|
|Attack type||shooting, mass murder, massacre|
|Deaths||Apx. 30 |
|Perpetrators||United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC)|
The Mapiripán Massacre was a massacre of civilians that took place in Mapiripán, Meta Department, Colombia. The massacre was carried out from July 15 to July 20, 1997, by the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), an outlawed right-wing paramilitary group backed by elements of the government.
On July 12, 1997, two planeloads of paramilitaries arrived at the airport of San José del Guaviare, which also served as a base for anti-narcotics police. The paramilitaries then traveled through territories where the Colombian National Army manned checkpoints.
On July 15, 1997, the paramilitiaries arrived at Mapiripán. They used chainsaws and machetes to murder, behead, dismember, and disembowel a number of civilians. Because the bodies were thrown into a river, it is unknown exactly how many people died but the U.S. State Department claimed in 2003 that at least 30 civilians were killed
In proceedings before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the government of Colombia admitted that members of its military forces also played a role in the massacre, through omission. General Jaime Uscátegui allegedly ordered local troops under his command to stay away from the area in which the murders were taking place until the paramilitaries finished the massacre and left. Retired General Uscátegui was later prosecuted, put on trial, and subsequently acquitted.
On 25 November 2009, the Superior Tribunal of Bogotá revoked the previous sentence, and condemned General Uscátegui to 40 years in prison.
One of the paramilitary leaders allegedly responsible for the massacre, Dumas de Jesús Castillo Guerrero, a.k.a. ‘Carecuchillo’, surrendered to authorities on May 20, 2008. after having been considered dead for half a year.
Uscategui arrest and conviction
Jaime Humberto Uscategui, a former army general whom it found had ignored calls for help during the massacre, was arrested in 1999. His trial took place in a military court and he was given forty months in prison for "omission" in 2001.
On 25 November 2009, the Bogotá superior tribunal announced in a ruling of ninety pages that it had granted a forty-year prison sentence to Jaime Humberto Uscategui. It was the longest sentence that had ever been given to an officer in the army in the country's history. Jaime Humberto Uscategui was declared guilty of kidnapping, murdering and falsifying documents belonging to the public. His sentencing came at the age of 61. He is still innocent, according to himself. He said, "I have the tranquillity of innocence and I also have the tranquillity of proof".
- Uppsala Conflict Data Program Conflict Encyclopedia, Colombia, One-Sided violence, AUC-Civilians, 1997-2005, http://www.ucdp.uu.se/gpdatabase/gpcountry.php?id=35®ionSelect=5-Southern_Americas#
- National Security Archive, August 1, 2003, Robert P. Jackson, Director of Office for Promotion of Human Rights and Democracy, Bureau of Democracy Human Rights and Labor, http://nsarchive.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/20030801.pdf
- National Security Archive Blog, "Unredacted" Friday Document, http://nsarchive.wordpress.com/2012/07/13/document-friday-the-mapiripan-massacre-cover-up/
- Human Rights Atrocities Still go Unpunished in Colombia | Rights and Liberties | AlterNet
- años de cárcel por masacre de Mapiripán pagará el general retirado Jaime Uscátegui
- "Former Colombian general jailed for role in Mapiripán massacre". The Guardian. 2009-11-26. Retrieved 2009-11-27.
- "Mapiripán massacre suspect surrenders". Colombia Reports. May 20, 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-20.[dead link]
- "Colombia jails death squad general over massacre". BBC. 2009-11-26. Retrieved 2009-11-27.
- Libardo Cardona (2009-11-25). "Court convicts ex-general in Colombia massacre". The Miami Herald. Retrieved 2009-11-27.[dead link]
- "Ex general colombiano condenado a 40 años" (in Spanish). Radio Nederland Wereldomroep. Retrieved 2009-11-27.[dead link]
- "General gets 40 years over massacre". The Scotsman. 2009-11-27. Retrieved 2009-11-27.
- Case of the "Mapiripán Massacre" v. Colombia. Judgment on Merits, Reparations and Costs Inter-American Court of Human Rights, September 15, 2005.