The JEP Investigation and Prosecution Unit filed an indictment against retired Army colonel Publio Hernán Mejía Gutiérrez for the crimes of homicide of a protected person, torture and forced disappearance for events that occurred when he served as commander of the La Popa Battalion Valledupar and related to 72 extrajudicial executions.
The aforementioned criminal conducts, in turn, include all the elements of crimes against humanity and war crimes that have been conceptualized in national and international law.
Likewise, the Investigation and Prosecution Unit certified copies so that the Office of the Attorney General of the Nation, the Office of the Attorney General of the Nation and the National Commission for Judicial Discipline investigate whether officials of the Military Criminal Justice, prosecutors and prosecutors, who had under their responsibility the investigations into the homicides committed by the military at the time that Mejía Gutiérrez served as commander of the battalion of the capital of Cesar, could have incurred in some conduct that could be penalized or disciplinary.
According to the indictment, between December 2001 and November 2003, “Publio Hernán Mejía Gutiérrez devised, designed and carried out through an Illegal Organized Apparatus of Power a criminal plan that consisted of assassinating members of the civilian population and presenting them as casualties in combat, motivated by giving society a false perception of security and with which he tried to consolidate the image of being the best officer of the National Army”.
Mejía Gutiérrez abused his position as a high-ranking Army officer and, contrary to his constitutional duties and the loyalty he owed to the institution of which he was a part, used the State’s human, logistical, and financial resources to create the Battalion La Popa, the Illegal Organized Power Apparatus through which it caused the death and disappearance of members of the civilian population.
In carrying out the plan he devised, together with some of the people under his command in the La Popa Battalion, Mejía Gutiérrez made an alliance with the illegal armed group Frente Mártires del Cesar of the Northern Bloc of the AUC.
Prosecutors and investigators from the Investigation and Prosecution Unit established that the Illegal Organized Power Apparatus devised and executed by Mejía Gutiérrez was always clear who their victims were going to be: young people with economic deprivations, unemployed -in some cases coming from families that were broken with respect to of whom no further inquiries would be made– and peasant and indigenous population located in areas where the presence of the State was absent and the actions of the illegal armed groups were permanent.
The investigation of the prosecutors in the case established that, once the facts (homicides, torture and disappearances) were presented, in most cases the crime scene was altered and all sorts of irregular procedures were used to make the operations credible. carried out by the Illegal Organized Power Apparatus devised and executed by Mejía Gutiérrez.
From then on, the corrupt military relied on the apparent complacency of some officials of the Military Criminal Justice and ordinary justice to endorse the procedures of the uniformed officers and not investigate the homicides in depth.
That was how some prosecutors and prosecutors, in a matter of days, chose to send those investigations for homicides of defenseless people to the Military Criminal Justice so that they could be definitively archived there.
The director of the Investigation and Accusation Unit, Giovanni Álvarez Santoyo, highlighted the courage of the relatives of some of the victims of the Illegal Organized Power Unit of Mejía Gutiérrez, “because they did not back down despite the dangers they could face for their lives and did not tire of denouncing that their relatives were not criminals and that, on the contrary, they had been victims of some corrupt members of the La Popa Battalion.”