Transgender woman killed at army checkpoint in Colombia, prompting outrage

A demonstrator participates in a protest during a national strike, in Bogota, Colombia

A soldier shot and killed a transgender woman at a military checkpoint in southwestern Colombia, prompting outrage from activists and condemnation from politicians.

In a widely-circulated video Francisco Larranaga, the husband of victim Juliana Giraldo, cries while requesting assistance following her death in the Andean country’s Cauca province on Thursday.

“The army just killed my wife,” Larranaga sobs in the video, adding Giraldo was shot.

The killing was condemned by President Ivan Duque and Minister of Defense Carlos Holmes Trujillo.

“I condemn this reprehensible act,” Duque said in a message on Twitter, adding he ordered the army and defense ministry to conduct a prompt investigation, while calling for the person responsible to be held accountable.

General Marco Mayorga, commander of the army’s third division, gave an interview to local media Caracol Radio on Friday, describing the army’s version of events. He said a soldier reported shooting at the vehicle’s tires as it reversed near the checkpoint, thinking it was preparing to drive into it.

“The soldier said he shot at the tires to stop the vehicle,” Mayorga said. “It seems to me a bullet fell to the pavement and changed course…unfortunately hitting Juliana.”

Colombia’s transgender community often face discrimination and many accuse the police of perpetuating violence against trans people.

“Juliana Giraldo Diaz didn’t die, she was killed. They murdered her in cold blood,” Red Comunitaria Trans, a Colombian trans rights group, said on Twitter.

With her death the number of trans people killed in Colombia this year rose to 28, the group added.

Last week, Colombia’s human rights ombudsman said violence against members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community had increased during the first eight months of the year, when at least 63 people – including 17 transgender woman – were killed.

Earlier this month, the president called for investigations into police after 13 civilians were killed in protests. Colombia’s police, like the army, are controlled by the defense ministry.

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