A victim of corrupt system and racial discrimination

On October 30, 2010, Luis Andres Colmenares — a 20-year-old engineering student at Los Andes University in Colombia, known to his circle as El Negro due to his dark skin — attended a Halloween party with his friends at a local club. In the early hours of the next day, his mother Oneida was contacted by his friends who told her that Luis was drunk and fell into a water drain next to a park.
According to his two friends who were accompanying him at the time — Laura Moreno and Jessy Quintero — they went to a hot dog stand after the party ended around 3 am. While waiting there, Luis suddenly started running. He was followed by Laura while Jessy waited for them to return. Laura claimed that Luis kept running and fell into the drain. She called Jessy, who had joined their friends and were searching for them, to report what happened. Hours later, the police were contacted. The drain and the area surrounding it were searched but Luis was not found. Twelve hours later, the lifeless body of Luis Colmenares appeared in the drain, 400 metres away from where Laura said that he had jumped. It was assumed that Luis was drunk and attempted suicide; case closed.
The Colmenares family never accepted the verdict and decided to perform a second autopsy. It concluded that Luis had suffered eight wounds and bruises that were not compatible with a fall but rather with a violent death. The case was re-opened by the prosecutor and Luis’s friends were interrogated again. There were disparities between their testimonies, especially of Laura’s and Jessy’s who were the last to see him alive.
There were questions that Laura couldn’t answer like: what was Luis’s phone doing with her? How was her ex-boyfriend Carlos Cardenas involved in all of this? The girls were arrested and accused of perjury. In 2012, a witness testified that on the night of the murder he’d seen Luis being beaten up by Carlos and put in his car’s trunk. Carlos was detained for homicide but later released when his lawyer proved that the witness’s testimony — like many others — was false.
The Colmenares case went on for eight years and ended with the three accused walking free due to lack of evidence. It’s one of the most controversial cases in Colombia’s modern history as it displayed what most societies suffer from: corruption of the system, abuse of power and racial discrimination. The whole case is captured beautifully in Netflix’s Historia de Un Crimen: Colmenares. The attention to details is amazing, especially when it came to picking actors who had an uncanny resemblance to the real-life characters. Each episode provides a dose of suspense that keeps you wanting to know more. The anger, frustration, grief and pain felt by the Colmenares family is contagious. And just when you think that the case is crystal clear and will be solved by the next episode, something happens and we’re back to square one again. Totally recommended!

(Rasha al Raisi is a certified skills trainer and the author of: The World According to Bahja. rashabooks@yahoo.com)