U.S. GIVES SOLDIER & CONTRACTOR IMMUNITY AFTER RAPING 12YEAR OLD COLUMBIAN GIRL

GREETINGS,

AMERICA IS A RESPECTOR OF LAW AND HUMAN RIGHTS WHEN SHE FEELS IT IS HER INTEREST OF BENEFIT OR PROFIT TO TRUMPET THOSE CAUSES YET SHE FLAUNTS THE RULE OF LAW EVERYDAY.” Colombian rape case clouded by U.S. soldier’s immunity
Despite an arrest order, a case that involves the rape of a 12-year-old girl on a Colombian military base remains in limbo.
(Spanish) Rape case clouded by U.S. soldier’s immunity
Despite an arrest order, a case that involves the rape of a 12-year-old girl on a Colombian military base remains in limbo.
El Nuevo Herald

Suspects U.S. Sgt. Michael Coen, left, and civil contractor César Ruiz, right, were taken out of Colombia under diplomatic immunity to avoid facing criminal charges in the rape of a little girl at Colombia’s Germán Olano Air Force Base in Melgar. FAMILY HAND OUT
(Spanish) Rape case clouded by U.S. soldier’s immunity
Photo
Related Content
On the web | Legal definition of Diplomatic Immunity
On the web | Lecturer of International Law
On the web | U.S. Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976
WEB VOTE
Do you think there should be exceptions to diplomatic immunity in respect to crimes?

Yes

No

Your vote has been counted, thank you for voting.

BY GERARDO REYES AND GONZALO GUILLEN
El Nuevo Herald
MELGAR, Colombia — The U.S. government has made little effort to investigate a U.S. army sergeant and a Mexican civil contractor implicated in Colombia in the raping of a 12-year-old girl in August 2007, according to an El Nuevo Herald investigation.

The suspects, Sgt. Michael Coen and contractor César Ruiz, were taken out of Colombia under diplomatic immunity, and do not face criminal charges in the United States in the rape in a room at Colombia’s Germán Olano Air Force Base in Melgar, 62 miles west of Bogotá.

U.S. diplomats, as well as military personnel and civilian contractors working in Colombia, are covered by diplomatic immunity as part of an agreement between the two countries.

An investigation by the Colombian prosecutor’s office concluded that the girl was sexually assaulted but did not go as far as identifying the suspects, according to the girl’s attorney, Jorge Gómez. Based on witness testimony and other evidence, the prosecutors issued an arrest warrant for the two men, the regional prosecutor office in Melgar told El Nuevo Herald.

The warrants were not executed because of the immunity of Coen and Ruiz.

The U.S. military inquiry has been kept under wraps, and two years after the incident, the Colombian government still does not have results of the probe, according to the Office of International Affairs of the nation’s District Attorney Office.

The U.S. Embassy said its government is willing to reopen the rape investigation if new evidence is found. In the first public statement about the case last week, the U.S. Embassy in Bogotá said that “at this point, there is insufficient evidence to prosecute the two U.S. service members involved.”

The statement said U.S. authorities have cooperated with Colombia’s District Attorney’s Office and the National Police Department in the investigation, but El Nuevo Herald has learned that Colombia’s District Attorney’s Office has not received a request from the United States to interrogate the girl or her mother, Olga Lucía Castillo.

“There is no request in our files from U.S. officials to conduct interviews or interrogations regarding the girl’s rape,” Colombia’s District Attorney’s Office said last week. The government office has a policy of not identifying its spokesmen.

Gómez, the victim’s attorney, said the investigators did not contact him, either.

The case has gained relevance in past weeks in Colombia after President Alvaro Uribe announced an agreement with Washington to expand U.S. military activities in the country’s air bases.

Christopher Grey, spokesman of U.S. Army’s Criminal Investigations Command, said from Virginia that the case has been sent back to the investigating field for new tests. But he added that he could not discuss details of the original investigation in Colombia.

Colombia’s District Attorney’s Office said that its investigation proved that the girl was abused, and singled out the two Americans as suspects.

In Colombia’s D.A. regional office in Melgar, where the investigation was initiated, El Nuevo Herald learned that the office had ordered the arrests of both.

The arrests were not carried out because the D.A.’s international office ordered a halt to the investigation because the men had diplomatic immunity, said María Cristina Torres González, director of the D.A. section in Melgar.

“You feel impotent when you face the unfairness and the selective way of administering justice in cases like these,” Torres said.

Melgar residents said U.S. investigators visited the city in search of information about the life and customs of Castillo and her two daughters.

In an interview with El Nuevo Herald, Castillo said a man who introduced himself as Jhon Ramírez, U.S. Army criminal investigator, interrogated her at a police station in downtown Bogotá.

The interview was blunt, Castillo said, with Ramírez armed with a gun during the interrogation.

“He seemed more interested in having me sign a release exonerating [Coen and Ruiz] for chasing me after I filed the rape complaint than learning what happened with my daughter,” Castillo said.

Gerardo Reyes can be reached at greyes@herald.com.”

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2009 Hiram's 1555 Blog

Leave a Reply