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Videotape Shows Americans' Role in Village Bombing

Two U.S. men flying a surveillance plane helped direct an attack on guerrillas in a 1998 Colombian incident that killed 18 civilians. Two Americans helped direct a bombing attack that killed 18 civilians, including seven children, in a small Colombian village, according to court records and a recently discovered videotape that reveals for the first time the depth of U.S. involvement in the incident. The two men, identified in court records as Joe Orta and Charles Denny, were flying in a surveillance plane owned by AirScan Inc., of Florida, with a third crewman, Maj. Cesar Gomez, a Colombian air force officer. The men were helping direct an attack against leftist guerrillas fighting the Colombian army near the village of Santo Domingo in December 1998. The three men, who were videotaping the operation from the sky, can be heard discussing guerrillas’ positions, directing air traffic and choosing the best place to drop a U.S.-made cluster bomb to provide air support to troops on the ground. The Times has previously reported on the Santo Domingo incident. But the videotape, which recently surfaced in an ongoing court proceeding, provides the fullest picture yet of the Americans’ participation. It also clears up lingering questions about the operation: Contrary to Colombian military testimony, the videotape shows that the nation’s air force believed that leftist guerrillas were hiding in Santo Domingo on the day of the fighting. Full Story

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