JEP delivered 73 bodies found in Puerto Berrío to Forensic Medicine for identification

The bodies correspond to victims of forced disappearance, buried without identifying in the La Dolorosa cemetery in this municipality of Magdalena Medio.

The National Institute of Legal Medicine received 73 bodies of possible victims of forced disappearance, found and recovered in the La Dolorosa cemetery in Puerto Berrío (Magdalena Medio, Antioqueño) by expert personnel from the Unit for the Search of Persons Given as Disappeared (UBPD) and the Investigation and Accusation Unit of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP).

The tasks were completed between September 13 and 25 and An average of nine bodies were recovered each day, after the intervention of 124 vaults that have precautionary measures for the protection of the JEP among other points of this cemetery because it is presumed that they would have bodies of victims of the armed conflict. There are still 230 forensic points of interest at the site that have not been explored.

It is expected that Legal Medicine will proceed with the identification of the 73 forensic findings it received so that it can be determined who the people are and, later, they can make a dignified delivery to their families.

These bodies They were found in the charity pavilions of the cemetery, a space that the same community allocated to give a dignified burial to dead people, most with signs of violence, who came from the Magdalena River and of those who did not have their identities. The inhabitants of Puerto Berrío accepted the tradition of adopting the victims and assigning them an identity in exchange for favors through prayer.

For this reason, in the middle of the diligence, work was also done with the community, which held a symbolic ritual to hand over to the JEP and the UBPD the bodies that they have been protecting for years.

Alone in this pavilion of charity There are 157 vaults protected by the JEP, of which the 124 mentioned were intervened. According to the prosecutor Carlos Arturo Mutis Flórez, team leader of the Investigation and Accusation Unit, the 33 remaining vaults will be added to another 197 that are still pending to intervene in other parts of the cemetery.

Prior to this work, in 2020, specialized teams from the JEP were in the area to identify areas of interest susceptible to intervention. To do this, they conducted community interviews, drone overflights, judicial inspections, document analysis, and topographic and photographic information surveys. This allowed determine that in the pavilions of charity the inscriptions on the tombstones suggested in almost all cases that there were unidentified persons.

During the recovery process, the Comprehensive System for Peace unearthed a horrifying truth about the war that struck the Magdalena Medio region. The bodies were buried “inside bags, naked, with signs of ties, with gunshot wounds, totally fragmented, found in a state of total defenselessness.”

According to information from the JEP, the first judicial inspection carried out in Puerto Berrío was between January and February of this 2021, When the Investigation and Indictment Unit intervened in the two custody cells of the cemetery and found a considerable number of unidentified bodies, different from those in the vaults.

There were 416 containers found, or the bags where the bodies were found, which were in deplorable conditions on an old wooden shelf about to collapse. “Of these, 373 were handed over to the parish priest of the municipality and 43, who were unidentified and had signs of violent death, are now in the hands of Forensic Medicine that is making progress in their identification,” the JEP concluded in its report on the case.