SOACHA, Colombia, Sept 10 (Reuters) - It has been a year since Carolina Hurtado rushed to a hospital morgue in Colombia's capital to identify the bloodied body of her older brother Cristhian, but she still has no definitive answers about how he was killed.
Cristhian Hurtado, 27, was one of at least 13 people rights groups and families have said were slain by police in Bogota and its satellite city Soacha amid protests that exploded in September last year after two officers assaulted and killed taxi driver Javier Ordonez.
Since 2019 a series of demonstrations against President Ivan Duque's unpopular government have led to more than 40 civilian deaths, according to government figures. Victims' families, their lawyers and human rights groups say many of the deaths are driven by heavy-handed policing.
Though the army has a long record of rights abuses and unlawful killings during Colombia's six decades of civil conflict, urban police forces were until recently widely thought of as better-trained and more professional.
Despite international outcry, including from the United Nations and European Union, and assurances from Duque those responsible would be brought to justice, only one police officer has so far been detained, under house arrest, for the killings during protests a year ago.
That officer and three others are being investigated over accusations of homicide, the attorney general's office told Reuters - one of them for two separate killings. Reuters was unable to identify the lawyers representing the police officers.
Officers under investigation have been placed on administrative duties, the national director of police, General Jorge Vargas, said in a Thursday Twitter post, adding that he hoped authorities would detain further officers where necessary.
The police had promptly handed over information about munitions used during the protests to the attorney general's office last year, Vargas said, asking forgiveness from those who had been the victim of proven misconduct by police.
Investigations into the death of six other protesters, including Cristhian, are still in an initial stage of inquiries, the attorney general's office said. It did not respond to questions about whether there were investigations over the deaths of two remaining civilian victims identified by advocacy groups.
Like some other families of those killed that night, Carolina and her mother, Maria Elena, insist Cristhian was not even involved in protests. His girlfriend told them he went out to buy breakfast ingredients for the next morning.
"It hasn't been verified who is responsible and it's very probable that person is still in the police and is still wearing the uniform," said Carolina. Her family and their lawyers say Cristhian was killed by a gunshot wound to the head.
A police spokesman said that officers convicted of abuses would be punished to the full extent of the law, but it was for prosecutors to prove their guilt.
The lack of progress in investigations bodes badly for families seeking answers over more numerous deaths at protests that erupted in April this year over unpopular tax reforms, lawyers for the families and rights groups say.
The government says at least 29 people were killed during the two months of protests: those figures include three police officers and several protesters killed by civilians, according to officials. Colombian rights group Temblores has said police are responsible for as many as 44 killings.
To date, 16 officers are being investigated for homicide related to this year's protests, the national police said. Officers under investigation are usually placed on administrative duties.