Trial Proceeds Against Former Colombian Generals

Several retired Colombian generals and other officers have been sent to trial on charges of war crimes and human rights abuses due to their actions regarding the military’s “false positives” scandal, which led to hundreds of Colombian civilians being killed.

An Ongoing Case:

The case follows the actions of several military units under the command of the generals, with 192 of the 264 deaths between 2005 and 2008 reported by the units being thought to have been civilians who were later purposefully misidentified as guerillas.

Prosecutors allege the military officers did not take sufficient action to prevent the false positives from occurring, while further claiming that some of the defendants had given orders directly to their subordinates to misidentify and murder civilians.

“From the command they occupied, they were permissive, lax in controls, and did not exercise their powers of prevention, investigation, and sanction. This facilitated the dissemination, permanence, and concealment of the crimes. Their omissions contributed to the consolidation of the three macrocriminal patterns documented in the Huila Subcase, one of the six areas prioritized in the investigation,” a document alleging the crimes stated.

The false-positive scandal was initiated in order to portray victories over the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) alongside other guerilla fighters such as the National Liberation Army (ELN), two leading armed groups in Colombia’s ongoing internal conflict.


Authorities detonate a cocaine installation belonging to the FARC. (Photo – AFP/Guillermo Legaria)

This case comes amid an official apology by the Colombian military regarding the false positives, with Defense Minister Ivan Velásquez issuing the apology in Bogota’s Plaza de Bolivar.

The Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), a transitional court system that played a massive role in facilitating the peace deal between the FARC and the government in 2016, has led the investigation into the false positives, resulting in over 700 members of the Colombian military giving evidence, while more than 3,500 members of the military have been put under investigation for their association with the crimes.

Military officials have testified that government policies and pressure from superior officers motivated the killings, rewarding soldiers with a high kill count with vacation days, promotions, and bonuses following a government initiative in 2016. JEP has indicted three generals, most notably the retired general and commander of the Colombian army, Mario Montoya, who has been accused of being responsible for at least 130 killings. Officials further testified that Montoya ordered soldiers to prioritize kills over captures of rebels.

The generals will face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Trent Barr
Trent Barr
Trent Barr is an Intelligence Analyst for Atlas News. He has over ten years of experience and is trained in open source intelligence gathering. Trent Barr specializes in Latin American, German, and Vatican affairs while also holding an interest in Europe as a whole.

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