On February 7, 2003, around 8:00 pm, a car bomb with 200 kilos of explosives exploded at the facilities of the Cl Nogal club, in eastern Bogotá.
Twenty years later, the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) determined that the investigation for the attack, committed by the Farc, will have priority.
According to that entity, hehe prioritization of the file for the car bomb attack in which 36 people died is framed within the tenth macro case that is studied there: that of non-amnestiable crimes committed by members of the extinct FARC-EP. In the next few days, the JEP Recognition Room will call the former guerrilla structures involved in this criminal attack to give testimony.
In the macro case that investigates the crimes committed by the demobilized guerrilla, among which are selective assassinations, the JEP has estimated a universe of 29,700 victims of terrorist acts.
What the Council of State said
The Council of State revoked a ruling by which the Administrative Court of Cundinamarca had condemned the Nation to provide financial compensation to a family victim of the attack on Club El Nogal in Bogotá, that was perpetrated by the former guerrilla of the Farc.
In this case, the victims pointed out that, despite the fact that the damage was the product of a terrorist act by the insurgency, the authorities had to compensate the plaintiffs. In his opinion, the intelligence information that evidenced the guerrilla’s intention to commit numerous attacks in the capital proved that the action was foreseeable. Hence, they considered that the authorities had committed an omission by not taking action in view of the imminence of the attack. This was stated when presenting the demand for direct reparation object of this decision.
In the first instance, the Administrative Court of Cundinamarca condemned the Nation-Ministry of Defense-National Police-Attorney General. It concluded that an investigation was not carried out on the attacks that the FARC planned to carry out in Bogotá, which prevented taking preventive measures that would allow mitigating a risk such as the one allegedly materialized.. In addition, he specified that the permanent presence at the club’s facilities of high-ranking State officials who were military objectives of the insurgents exposed the victims to a risk that they were not obliged to bear. For these reasons, the corporation ordered the authorities to repair 70% of the damage caused by these events.
The decision was appealed by the National Agency for Legal Defense of the State (Andje), with the purpose that the Council of State acquitted the condemned entities. He maintained that it was not proven that the event was foreseeable, that there is no evidence that it was directed against state officials and that the damage was caused by a third party, in this case the FARC guerrilla. The plaintiffs also filed an appeal, since they wanted a higher amount to be recognized for reparation, among other things because, in their opinion, state entities should be ordered to compensate all the damages.
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When explaining why the conviction was overturnedthe Council of State specified that the duty of the State to guarantee the security of its citizens does not mean that the reparation judge should not take into account the limitations that the authorities may face to avoid attacks such as the one that was the subject of this litigation. He clarified that, in this case, the unpredictability and irresistibility of the events was proven, which, he says, should be exclusively attributable to the members of the then FARC guerrilla.
The room specified that the information intercepted by the intelligence agencies on the plans of the armed group pointed to the headquarters of Congress, mayors and legislators, but the El Nogal Club was never mentioned as a possible target. The ruling of the Council of State also describes evidence provided to the process, according to which it is indicated that, at that time, it could not be interpreted that senior State officials who frequented the place could be the object of attacks like the one that occurred.
For his part, Rodrigo Londoño, from the Comunes party, has claimed to be aware of the damage caused by the terrorist action and described it as a mistake.
“It was a heinous act that should never have happened. As the last commander in chief of the disappeared Farc, I deeply regret this fact that only brought unjustifiable pain.”
Despite the pardon, the former commander of the extinct FARC pointed out that there is little he can contribute about the case. “We have contributed what we had. That is the information there is, we don’t have more details”, declared ‘Timochenko’.
Londoño assured that he was unaware of “the reasons that led colleagues from the Farc-EP to plant the bomb in El Nogal. It was said that former minister and former foreign minister Marta Lucía Ramírez met with paramilitaries there. I do not know, but even if it were true, it was not reason to commit this crime”, alleged the leader of the Commons.
And he added: “We were never motivated to affect the civilian population and this type of act embarrasses me, because they are acts contrary to our revolutionary ethics.” He assured that “it was demonstrated that this was an action that went against the same principles that governed the actions of the Farc, since there was no political profit.”
On the other hand, he considered that the State is the one that should respond to the victims with the reparation, since, according to him, the demobilized guerrilla already handed over their assets to the National Government.
position of the victims
for his part Bertha Lucía Fríes, one of the leaders of the victims, assured that “there is a great sadness. It has been known over the years that this bombing was known to happen and they did nothing. We continue to wonder how they sold this share to a partner and nothing was done… The advances in ordinary justice are very small, there are lawsuits that are working, but the reparation is still nil”.
Fríes recalled that within her own path of reconciliation with the extinct FARC, on November 3, 2016 she made a trip to Havana and met face to face with the current head of the Second Marquetalia dissidents, Iván Márquez.
Fries remained crippled for eight years after a wall fell on her in the attack and fractured her spine.