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Colombian Air Force Gets Blame for Bomb

December 13, 2000|From Associated Press

BOGOTA, Colombia — A symbolic tribunal made up of U.S. jurists and clergy said Tuesday that evidence suggests that the Colombian air force caused the deaths of 17 civilians when it dropped a bomb on a village two years ago.

The unusual group, headed by a former Illinois Supreme Court justice, has no legal standing. But it hopes to prod Colombian authorities into investigating the attack, in which six children were among the dead.

The Colombian air force has denied it dropped a U.S.-made bomb on Santo Domingo, a village near the border with Venezuela, while troops battled rebels nearby on Dec. 13, 1998. It claims that a truck bomb planted by leftist guerrillas caused the shrapnel deaths.

The 11-member "tribunal of opinion" organized by Northwestern University's law school rejected that version in an 82-page "judgment" given to reporters.

There was no immediate response from the Colombian or U.S. governments.

The tribunal held hearings in Chicago in September in which it reviewed evidence, villagers' testimony and a video prepared by Colombia's military. The group was presided over by former Illinois Supreme Court Justice Seymour Simon and included two law professors, a rabbi and an auxiliary Roman Catholic bishop from Chicago.

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