Courts & Crime

U.S. soldier's immunity clouds 2007 Colombian rape case

The U.S. government has made little effort to investigate a U.S. army sergeant and a Mexican civil contractor implicated in Colombia in the raping of a 12-year-old girl in August 2007, according to an El Nuevo Herald investigation.

The suspects, Sgt. Michael Coen and contractor César Ruiz, were taken out of Colombia under diplomatic immunity, and do not face criminal charges in the United States in the rape in a room at Colombia's Germán Olano Air Force Base in Melgar, 62 miles west of Bogotá.

U.S. diplomats, as well as military personnel and civilian contractors working in Colombia, are covered by diplomatic immunity as part of an agreement between the two countries.

An investigation by the Colombian prosecutor's office concluded that the girl was sexually assaulted but did not go as far as identifying the suspects, according to the girl's attorney, Jorge Gómez. Based on witness testimony and other evidence, the prosecutors issued an arrest warrant for the two men, the regional prosecutor office in Melgar told El Nuevo Herald.

The warrants were not executed because of the immunity of Coen and Ruiz.

The U.S. military inquiry has been kept under wraps, and two years after the incident, the Colombian government still does not have results of the probe, according to the Office of International Affairs of the nation's District Attorney Office.

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