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  • Latin America's largest mass graves are found in Colombia's Medellin.

    Latin America's largest mass graves are found in Colombia's Medellin. | Photo: Reuters

Published 10 September 2019

City authorities admitted that they had buried at least 900 homicide victims at a cemetery between 2002 and 2012 but kept it quiet to promote its “transformation process.”

Colombia has been hiding the fact that it has Latin America’s largest mass graves according to a recent finding by the country’s war crimes tribunal. It also said that Colombia may have been falsifying homicide rates for propaganda. 

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The Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) ordered an inspection of two quarries where around 300 people are buried. The authorities then admitted that they had buried at least 900 homicide victims at the cemetery between 2002 and 2012. 

Afterwards, while city authorities in Medellin said that they had little information on unidentified bodies buried in the cemetery, the court ordered an inquiry to “conduct interviews with the authorities in charge of the administration of the cemetery or with those in charge of keeping records of the entry, removal or movement of the bodies of buried persons.”

Mayor Federico Gutierrez was accused of trying to hide another 174 victims of enforced disappearances. 

The JEP found out about this mass grave while investigating “Operation Orion,” a 2002 military operation carried out by the Medellin Police Department.

The court ordered the investigators to include city contractor El Condor S.A. after they found out that they were removing sand and possible human remains from a cemetery. They have removed 80 percent of the sand in which victims of enforced disappearances are believed to be buried between 2003 and 2015. 

Based on recent findings by the JEP, the city has not recorded at least 1,374 homicide victims of forced disappearance to promote its “transformation process.”

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