Monday, December 8, 2014

Maim, Kill and Go Home to Rest

Police examine cars after crash which killed four. The driver of the other vehicle was sent to his home today by a judge.
(Photo: El Tiempo)
The peace negotiations with the FARC guerrillas are generating controversy because of the impunity sure to be given to guerrillas and soldiers guilty of murder, displacement and other severe human rights violations.

But impunity's critics could look right here in Bogotá, where killers routinely go home to rest: just because they killed using cars and while drunk.

A drunk driver in a Venezuelan embassy car left this disaster
scene in early November. A judge sent him to his home,
and I've heard nohing more about the case.
(Photo: El Tiempo)
The latest example is that of 24-year-old Ernesto Manzanera, who, in the early morning of Dec. 2, while speeding along the Autopista Norte, smashed into a car containing four members of the Moreno family, killing them all. Manzanera fled the scene, and only turned himself in to police 15 hours later, at which time an alcohol test came out negative.

This morning, in a closed hearing, Manzanera, who is a co-pilot for Avianca, was charged with 'culpable homicide,' which in the United States would roughly translate to involuntary murder. Despite protests of the victims' relatives, the judge sent Manzanera to his home to await trial. Manzanera's father, Ernesto Manzanera Jiménez, now apparently retired, was a prominent politician in Cundinamarca.

In the first days of November, Aníbal Enrique Tapia, drunk and driving a luxury BMW with injured 11 people and killed one in north Bogotá. A judge charged him with homicide and sent him home to rest. The Venezuelan Embassy said in a statement that Tapia was a Colombian citizen and had used the car without permission. It did not explain why an irresponsible person with an alcohol problem had access to an embassy vehicle. I've searched the Internet and found no more recent information abut Tapia's case.
The posters, critical of the peace
negotiations, say 'Colombia without impunity.'
diplomatic license plates from the Venezuelan embassy,

Altho these killers go home after their first audience, one would hope that they would eventually be tried, convicted and imprisoned.

However, that doesn't seem to happen, either.

Recent prominent include one in which the scion of a wealthy Cali family killed three members of a motorcycle club on the outskirts of Bogotá and another in which a young man rear-ended a taxi, killing its two passengers and leaving the driver paralyzed. The second driver, Fabio Salamanca, was initially sent to rest in a hospital because of the stress he suffered from the accident he caused. Salamanca did spend a short time in prison before a judge sent him to his comfortable home to pay his debt to society.

In both those cases, as will likely happen in the more recent ones, the drunk drivers apparently paid
Fabio Salamanca killed two and left third paralyzed
and is serving out his sentence at home. (Photo: El Espectador)
off the victims' families to drop charges. Such a 'punishment' may bring some compensation to the families, but it does little for the rest of us, who continue to be at the mercy of drunks, who know that they can kill and go home, just as long as they have money in their pockets.

In a dramatic piece of evidence of this, Hollman Cangrejo, the taxi driver who was left quadriplegic, bought another taxi with the compensation money he received from Salamanca. This may, that taxi, with someone else at the wheel, was hit by a drunk driver who fled the scene. Fortunately, this drunk was chased down and caught by other taxi drives. No word on whether or not he went to prison.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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