American Samizdat

Thursday, July 17, 2008. *
BOGOTA, Colombia (CNN) -- Colombian military intelligence used the Red Cross emblem in a rescue operation in which leftist guerrillas were duped into handing over 15 hostages, according to unpublished photographs and video viewed by CNN.

Photographs of the Colombian military intelligence-led team that spearheaded the rescue, shown to CNN by a confidential military source, show one man wearing a bib with the Red Cross symbol. The military source said the three photos were taken moments before the mission took off to persuade the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia rebels to release the hostages to a supposed international aid group for transport to another rebel area.

Such a use of the Red Cross emblem could constitute a "war crime" under the Geneva Conventions and international humanitarian law and could endanger humanitarian workers in the future, according to international legal expert Mark Ellis, executive director of the International Bar Association.
Misuse of the Red Cross emblem is governed by articles 37, 38 and 85 of Additional Protocol One to the Geneva Conventions, the international rules of war. The articles prohibit "feigning of protected status by the use of ... emblems" of neutral parties and say that such misuses are considered breaches of international humanitarian law that qualify as a "war crime."

Colombia signed the Geneva Conventions in 1949.
Other photos shown to CNN indicate how little was done to disguise equipment used in the rescue. The two military MI-17 helicopters used in the rescue were repainted white and orange without removing armor-plated panels positioned around the outside of the cockpit. Another shot shows the pilots wearing what appear to be military pilots' helmets that have been repainted white with orange or red V-shaped stripes. The helmets still have prominent mounts on the front used for attaching night vision goggles.

One other video clip shows the two guerrilla commanders, who had boarded the helicopter with their hostages, carried out of the chopper over the shoulders of two men the CNN source identified as plain-clothes military personnel. The rebels were blindfolded and partially stripped. As they were dumped on the ground, they appeared groggy and stunned.

Before the departure of the operation, two soldiers in camouflage uniforms can be seen on the farm where the helicopters were staged, chasing a chicken and stunning it with a stun gun.
posted by Uncle $cam at 5:52 AM
Post a Comment

Site Meter

Creative Commons License