The Hilda Lorena Leal Castaño Case (May 13, 2018)

Source: En Vero Spanish
May 13, 2018
Translation: Jorge B. (Original publication in Spanish on September 23, 2017)


New acts of persecution and a criminalization attempt against the Defender of Human Rights Hilda Lorena Leal Castaño

Dr. Castaño’s legal representative informed En Vero of probable new acts of persecution, retaliation and intimidation against the Colombian lawyer and human rights defender.

Let us remember that, on November 20, 2013, Dr. Lorena Castaño received a disciplinary measure from the Superior Judiciary Council. En Vero argues that this disciplinary sanction, which resulted in losing her right to practice as a lawyer, was the result of a judicial process introduced by the then Human Rights Public prosecutor 73 Dr. Lindón José Piracón, vitiated by a number of procedural frauds, including the use of false witnesses. One of them is the ex-member of the Armed Forces Néstor Guillermo Gutiérrez Salazar (CC. No. 89.008.446) who has been convicted seven times for homicide, for a total of 128 years in jail.

On August 17, 2017, after 5 years of investigation, the he Public Prosecutor’s Office 2, part of a working team looking into false witnesses, finally charged Gutiérrez Salazar for perjury against Lorena Leal Castaño together with procedural fraud, within the NUNC 11-001-60-00049-2012-14576.

Thanks to the exemplary work by the False Witnesses Unit of the Attorney General”s Office, the case of Dr. Leal Castaño seems to be on track towards truth and justice since the disciplinary measure that she had received in 2013 was based on the false testimony of Gutiérrez for which he was charged.

Nevertheless, this week’s new events let us think that within the institution acts of retaliation are taking place against En Vero‘s client, in order to prevent the work by the False Witnesses Unit and the access to justice requested by Dr. Leal Castaño since the unjust disciplinary sanction she received in 2013. Thus, on September 18, the CTI-Bogota (Technical Investigation Corps-Bogotá) officer Wilmar Enrique Beltrán Ardila, native of the city of Cúcuta, scheduled an appointment with the lawyer for an administrative matter, beyond his competency, lacking all legal basis and in a similar fashion for which Gutiérrez Salazar was charged August 17, 2017: a clearly irregular act, an act of persecution and an attempt of criminalization which was brought to the attention of the same Colombian public prosecutor’s office, since the Colombian human rights defender is being victimized once again.

In addition on September 19, Hilda Lorena Leal Castaño’s lawyer received a series of insistent calls to her cellular from Néstor Guillermo Gutiérrez Salazar.


Néstor Guillermo Gutiérrez Salazar, the prosecutor’s star witness in the Lorena Leal Castaño case. Photo:  Periodismo sin Fronteras

Very affected by the latest events, security measures have been requested in order to guarantee her rights and her physical and psychological safety, and to avoid that the processes against Néstor G. Gutiérrez Salazar and John Jairo Pabón Vega, another false witness already charged for the fraud committed against the defender of Human rights, be closed.

Another concern is the irregular intervention by two other human rights public prosecutors 19 and 22, not involved in the Leal Castaño proceedings, in an apparent and irregular act to protect Gutiérrez Salazar.

In support of our client, En Vero presented a request for protective measures before the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights. During his recent stay in Bogotá the president of En Vero reiterated to the authorities the availability of the organization to work jointly with that unit to obtain justice in this terrible case of victimization, persecution, attempt of criminalization and abuse of power against one of the well-known defenders of human rights in Colombia, through the illegal and fraudulent use of the justice system.