“So you are the mother of the narco-guerilla commander,” the Ocaña District Attorney told her. “No, sir. I am the mother of Fair Leonardo Porras Bernal,” said Luz Maria Bernal. She replied that her son Leonardo, 26, had been born with mental disabilities and that he had the mental capacity of an eight year old. He could not read or write and had been certified as having a mental capacity of 53%.The right side of his body was paralyzed, including the hand which was allegedly used to hold the gun.
The case of a mentally disabled person revealed crimes committed by the Colombian army for monetary gain.
Source: La Razón (Edición Impresa)
The Colombian soldiers who killed Leonardo Porras made a grave error covering up their crime. Thanks to the efforts of Luz Maria Bernal, Leonardo’s mother, the case has been used to uncover a sinister plot within the Colombian Army: false positives.
Young people were kidnapped, killed and disguised as guerillas, and thereby used to receive secret rewards from the Alvaro Uribe administration (2002-2010). The Public Prosecutor’s Office recorded 4,716 homicides allegedly committed by members of the public forces.
Bernal and other mothers from Soacha (the first district where this crime became known) have been fighting against impunity even since. International observers have denounced the neglect and even the complicity of the State in these mass crimes.
“So you are the mother of the narco-guerilla commander,” the Ocaña District Attorney told her. “No, sir. I am the mother of Fair Leonardo Porras Bernal,” she replied.
“That is correct. Your son led an armed group,” said the District Attorney. “They exchanged gunfire with the 15th Mobile Brigade and he died in combat. He wore camouflage and was carrying a 9 mm pistol in his right hand. Evidence indicates that he fired the gun.”
Bernal replied that her son Leonardo, 26, had been born with mental disabilities and that he had the mental capacity of an eight year old. He could not read or write and had been certified as having a mental capacity of 53%.
The right side of his body was paralyzed, including the hand which was allegedly used to hold the gun. He disappeared from home on the 8th of January and was killed on the 12th, 700 kilometers from home. How could he be the commander of a guerilla group?
“I do not know, madam, that is what the military report states”, the District Attorney replied. Bernal was not allowed to see the body of her child in the mass grave. Around 20 soldiers were present at his disinterment and she was handed a closed coffin.
A year and a half later, when the coffin was opened as part of investigations, they discovered that it contained only one human torso with six vertebra and a skull stuffed with a shirt where the brain should have been. The remains belonged to Leonardo Porras.
This was one of the cases that uncovered the scandal of false positives: members of the Colombian army kidnapped youngsters living in slums, moved them hundreds of miles from their homes and murdered them, disguising them as guerrillas killed in combat in order to collect secret rewards established by the Uribe government.
The term “false positives” refers to the fabrication of evidence. Nineteen women whose sons were abducted and murdered by the army at the beginning of 2008 founded the group Mothers of Soacha to demand justice from the authorities.
By 2013, the Public Prosecutor had filed 4,716 reports of murder allegedly committed by public forces (among those, 3,925 were false positives).
As a result of the persistent insistence of Bernal and the other mothers, on the 31st of July 2013 the Supreme Court sentenced the six soldiers responsible for Leonardo’s death to 51 years in prison.