Bearing Witness to the Trials of Liliany Obando

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CASC email from Tuesday
by Kevin Neish in Bogota
Everything is going reasonably well here in Bogota.  The first trial day for Liliany was on Monday.  Liliany´s sister Lorena and her Uncle escorted me to the court room but the judge immediately demanded that they leave as they will be witnesses later on so I lost my translator. So for the next hour or so I was alone in the audience other then three soldiers with assault rifles. 
I dutifully listened intently and made notes every so often even though I understood very little of the discussion.  
Social rights activist, Liliany Obando imprisoned and on trial in Colombia

The judge and prosecutors occasionally stared at me probably wondering who the hell I was.  (I was told later by a lawyer that having me there had some sort of impact on how the court treated Liliany, good I hope).
I could understand that there was a lot of discussion about money coming from Canada, CUPE, etc., especially James Brittain.  Liliany did all the debating with the judge and the two prosecutors and did a fine job as far as I could tell. Eventually 4 young lawyers/students from the LAZO lawyers group turned up in the court room and kept me company.  Two Spanish union activists also eventually turned up as well.  

Unfortunately no one from FENSUAGRO was there although strangely I met Elberto Diaz outside the courthouse after the trial.  When Liliany was lead out of the courtroom in cuffs by several gun toting soldiers she smiled,jumped,laughed and shouted  
greetings and waved her arms in the air at us.  Gutsy women to say the least.  I was into the prison to visit her last Sat and had a fine time (even had a dance or two).  Just like my last visit all the political prisoners were upbeat and happy and always smiling.  

I´ll be returning for another visit next Saturday.  Besides the trial I´ve been accompanying Liliany´s mom, sister Lorena, daughter Laura and son Camillo often when they leave the apartment as there have numerous quite specific and ¨detailed¨ threats against them made by the paramilitary.  It seems that the kids haven´t gone outside to play much for quite a while so I´m spending time playing soccer with them in the park etc.

Anyhow I should be getting back to the house.  I´ll give you a shout a little later if I have anything more exciting to report.  Of course Liliany sent hugs and greetings to all of CASC for your support.  She got your card Anne and it´s up on her cell wall and she sent you a hug.

Bye for now.
Kevin (the travel writer)


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