Colombian court blames soldiers for killing 120 civilians Conflict news

The justice of the peace accuses 10 members of the Colombian army of killing at least 120 civilians and of falsely declaring that they were fighters.

A Colombian court has accused 10 members of the army and a civilian of forcibly disappearing 24 people and killing at least 120 civilians and falsely presenting themselves as fighters who had been killed in combat.

It is the first time that the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) tribunal in Bogotá has accused army members of being involved in the call. “False positive” scandal.

The JEP, which investigates crimes and atrocities committed during half a century of armed conflict in the country, governed earlier this year that the Colombian army had committed at least 6,400 extrajudicial killings and presented them as combat deaths between 2002 and 2008.

The court said Tuesday that the defendants played a decisive role in the murder, which was presented as combat deaths in the Catatumbo region of Santander’s northern province of Colombia between January 2007 and August 2008.

The defendants, identified by the JEP as responsible for issuing orders without which crimes would not have occurred systematically, include a general, six officers, three non-commissioned officers and a civilian.

“It was a pattern of macro-crime, that is, the repetition of at least 120 murders for two years in the same region by the same group of people associated with a criminal organization and following the same modus operandi.” said Magistrate Catalina Diaz on Tuesday.

The tribunal was set up under the 2016 peace agreement to prosecute former members of the rebel group of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and Colombian military leaders for alleged war crimes.

Dozens of army officers have been detained and convicted by Colombia’s regular judicial system for their part in the killings and have testified before the JEP while seeking more lenient sentences.

If those charged Tuesday do not accept the charges within 30 days, they could receive a 20-year prison sentence in a civil court, said magistrate and JEP president Eduardo Cifuentes.

Juan Pappier, a researcher in Colombia for Human Rights Watch, called the court’s announcement “a claim for victims and human rights groups fighting for justice in this case for more than a decade,” the New York Times reported. York Times.

Human rights groups have argued for years that the practice of military members killing and falsely representing civilians as enemy fighters was more common than the Colombian government has acknowledged.

A 2018 report, compiled with official sources and independent investigators, estimated that more than 10,000 civilians were killed during the administration of former President Alvaro Uribe.

While the military command denied that it was there a systematic policy to inflate the number of left-wing rebels killed with so-called “false positives,” soldiers and officers told the court that their superiors put pressure on them to reinforce the appearance of success in the government’s military campaign during the civil war.

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