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  • The guerrilla group M19 held a siege of the Palace of Justice to protested the army's violation of the cease-fire.

    The guerrilla group M19 held a siege of the Palace of Justice to protested the army's violation of the cease-fire. | Photo: El Espectador

Published 20 October 2015

The remains of the victims have been missing since the military raid of the Palace of Justice in Bogota in November 1985.

Relatives of the victims confirmed on Tuesday the identity of the remains of three people who disappeared during the siege at the Palace of Justice of Colombia in November 1985.

The remains belong to Lucy Amparo Oviedo Bonilla, found in the cemetery south of Bogota, and Cristina del Pilar Guarín Cortes and Luz Mary, found in a private cemetery, reported the Colombian newspaper El Espectador.

Cortes was the inspiration of “The Everlasting”, a play by Colombian playwright Miguel Torres about the military raid and one of the most important works in Colombian theater.

The playwright met the parents of Cortes, Joseph and Elsa Guarin Cortes, through the lawyer Eduardo Umaña in 1993.

In a 2014 interview with El Tiempo, he recalled how, "the lady took me to Cristina's room and said, 'I left it like this the day she went to work the morning of November 6. It was her last day (as a cashier at the cafeteria) because she was about to start her studies (as a postgrad in science education).' She also told me that every time the phone rang, every time there was a knock on the door, she thought it was Cristina."

RELATED: Anniversary of Colombia's Palace of Justice Siege

On the day of the raid, Oviedo Bonilla was also working the morning shift at the cafe, while Portela Leon was preparing to go to the office of then Chief Justice Alfonso Reyes Echandía. She was an occasional visitor to the courthouse.

The three victims were among 17 people who were at the Palace of Justice when the guerrilla group M-19 stormed the Palace of Justice in Colombia to protest the army's violation of a cease-fire.

The army and Colombian police opened fire to recover the facility, following orders of then-President Belisario Betancur to not negotiate with the rebels. The forces killed 98 people. Days after the event, the Court 78 of the Colombian Military Criminal Investigation ordered that the bodies of the victims be taken to a mass grave.

Investigations into the siege resulted in the sentencing of the former commander of the XIII Army Brigade, General Jesus Armando Arias Cabrales, and Colonel Luis Alfonso Plazas Vega. They received sentences of 35 and 30 years, respectively.

In December 2014, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights's declared the Colombian government guilty of “human rights abuses” including the forced disappearances of the 11 individuals.

The remains of the other eight people who disappeared during the events of November 6 and 7 have still not been located.

The announcement of the recovered remains comes days after the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia finalize an agreement in Havana, Cuba, on the disappeared during the armed conflict in the country.

The number of missing from the Colombian conflict has reached more than 150,000, according to the Registry of Victims.

Both the government and the FARC have suggested creating mechanisms for finding the missing, identifying victims and delivering their remains to families.

RELATED: Inter-American Court Condemns Colombia for Disappearances

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