- For defenders
- How can I help?
Colombia: Human rights defender Mr David Rabelo Crespo awaits verdict following closing remarks in trial
The closing remarks have been heard in the trial of human rights defender, Mr David Rabelo Crespo, 18 months after his detention on a charge of aggravated murder.
David Rabelo Crespo is the Secretary of the Board of Directors of the Corporación Regional para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos – CREDHOS (Regional Corporation for the Defence of Human Rights), and a member of the Magdelena Medio branch of the Movimiento de Víctimas de Crímenes de Estado – MOVICE (Movement of Victims of State Crimes). The final verdict is expected in the next few weeks.
Mr Alirio Uribe Muñoz, defence lawyer for David Rabelo Crespo, called for the human rights defender's acquittal highlighting the fact that throughout the trial there has been evidence of numerous changes and contradictions in the versions of events given by key prosecution witnesses, evidence of attempts to bribe witnesses and a sustained attempt to stigmatise the defendant.
David Rabelo Crespo was arrested on 14 September 2010 by members of the Cuerpo Técnico de Investigación de la Fiscalía – CTI (Technical Investigation Division of the District Attorney's office), and accused of the 1991 killing of the Secretary for Public Works of Barrancabermeja, Mr David Nuñez Cala. The charges came about as a result of accusations that were made against David Rabelo Crespo by members of the paramilitary group Autodefensas Unidas de Santander y Cesar – AUSAC (Self-Defence Units of Santander and Cesar), Mr Mario Jaimes Mejía and Mr Fremio Sánchez Carreño.
In March 1999 the provincial courts found Mario Jaimes Mejía guilty for his involvement in two paramilitary massacres which took place in Barrancabermeja on 16 May 1998 and 28 February 1999. Under the Justice and Peace Law 975 of 2005, former paramilitaries can get reduced prison sentences in exchange for full confessions regarding their participation in paramilitary actions. Invoking this law in an attempt to reduce his 40-year sentence, Mario Jaimes Mejía has accused David Rabelo Crespo of instigating the murder of David Nuñez Cala.
During the preparatory hearing on the case, a prosecution witness claimed that Mario Jaimes Mejía and Fremio Sánchez Carreño attempted to bribe him into claiming responsibility for the killing and then incriminating David Rabelo Crespo in it, in exchange for some benefits through the Justice and Peace Law.
Furthermore, the defence claims that the charge sheet is based solely on the evidence of three prosecution witnesses, without making any reference to more than 30 testimonies from reputable persons from Barancabermeja who refute the charges.
Front Line Defenders believes that the charges against David Rabelo Crespo are directly related to his non-violent work in defence of human rights, in particular his years as a public and community leader, and the human rights violations he denounced through his work with CREDHOS. Front Line Defenders calls on the relevant authorities in Colombia to ensure that full consideration is given to all evidence presented in the proceedings with a view to ensuring the acquittal of David Rabelo Crespo