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Colombian army officer convicted of rape in landmark case

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Catherine Scott
WVoN co-editor

In what has been described as a ‘rare victory’ by Amnesty International, a Colombian army officer has been convicted of the rape and murder of a 14 year-old girl during Colombia’s ongoing decades-old civil war.

On Monday 27th August, sub-Lieutenant Raúl Muñoz Linares was sentenced to 60 years in prison for the rape and murder of 14-year-old Jenni Torres, as well as the murder of her brothers aged nine and six and the rape of another girl in October 2010.

The case was prompted when the tortured bodies of the children were discovered close to an army base in Tame, in the north-east of Colombia. This resulted in a high-profile investigation into 60 members of the Colombian army.

The 45-year conflict in Colombia has seen rape increasingly used a tool of war by both paramilitary and guerilla forces. In 2008, Colombia’s Constitutional Court described sexual violence committed in the conflict as “habitual, extensive, systematic and invisible”. Few perpetrators ever face justice.

Marcelo Pollack, Colombia researcher for Amnesty International, said: “Although the government and the prosecuting authorities have implemented measures to combat impunity in such cases, these have been ineffectual. More must be done to ensure that the right of survivors to truth, justice and reparation is fully respected.”

Campaigners for justice hope the conviction of Munoz will set a precedent for further arrests and convictions in the numerous cases of sexual violence committed by the armed forces. The case has been marred by attempts to intimidate the Torres family, who received so many death threats they were forced to move.

Sexual violence is a serious problem in Colombia, as Women’s Views On News has previously reported, with 51,000 women being attacked in 2011 alone.

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