Mother wants U.S. military to allow justice for girl’s rape

The alleged rape of a girl at the hands of a U.S. officer on a Colombian military base has rekindled the anger and frustration of her mother, who also was raped 12 years ago and faces major hurdles in her quest for justice.

(MIAMI HERALD)   Olga Lucía Castillo could never bring to justice the men who raped her in Bogotá when she was pregnant with her daughter. Twelve years later, she is putting up the fight of her life to have a U.S. Army officer and a Mexican-born contractor indicted because, according to her, they raped her daughter at the military base in Melgar.

The older of her two daughters was sexually abused at a military base in this city, 62 miles from Bogotá, in August 2007, according to a criminal charge filed by Castillo at the Colombian prosecutor’s office.

The suspects are U.S. Army sergeant Michael Coen and Mexican-born contractor César Ruiz, whose arrest was ordered by prosecutors following testimonies. There is no forensic evidence to implicate them, and after both suspects were taken out of the country under diplomatic immunity, the investigation could not move forward.

`I WILL NOT STOP’

Castillo is outraged and does not want the crime to go unpunished this time, as it happened in her case. She remembered bitterly that her husband had left her at the time, arguing that she had let the men rape her.

“I will not stop until justice is done,” Castillo told El Nuevo Herald in Melgar. “This must be punished.”

She was not even allowed to enter the U.S. Embassy in Bogotá, where she wanted to demand information on the investigation. She then tried to present the case before the Colombian congress last month, and two congresswomen opposed her presentation arguing that they would not allow intimate “pornographic” descriptions on the congress floor.

Castillo learned Thursday that the American suspects have no pending matters with the country’s justice system. The U.S. Embassy said the investigation could be reopened if new evidence was found.

“The judicial system is making fun of me,” Castillo said. “What the United States wanted me to do is to withdraw my charges. All I want is repair, justice and truth.”

The case is considered closed at the U.S. Army’s Criminal Investigations Command, though it is still under an “administrative process,” said spokesman Chris Grey.

In a message sent to El Nuevo Herald, Grey made clear that the action pending is not an “investigative process” nor ordering new tests, as was reported initially. It has more to do with “correctly filing the case.”

A BROKEN FAMILY

Fearing retaliation from the U.S. for her charges, Castillo abandoned Melgar, where she sold pottery craftwork, and now lives at a poor development south of Bogotá, sleeping on a mattress she shares with her younger daughter. She is worried because she has lost control of her raped daughter, who now lives with a friend and has turned to alcohol.

A few days after being raped, the minor attempted suicide by jumping on a street with heavy traffic. A relative stopped her. But the child’s life changed that Sunday night of Aug. 26, 2007.

Sales were slow that night at the plaza in Melgar, a warm tourist city west of Bogotá, when Castillo asked her two daughters to check out a close-by area known as the Red Zone to see if it was more crowded to go and set up the mobile stand she uses to sell earrings, rings and bracelets. The girls went with a friend and, according to Castillo, one of them asked to use the restroom at the As de Corazones disco.

The Colombian investigators worked on a trail indicating that when the girl entered the disco looking for the restroom, she was intercepted by Colombian adults who are in the business of providing women and drugs to Americans from the military base in Tolemaida.

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/world/story/1218573.html

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