Colombia: 21 soldiers confess to executing civilians and presenting themselves as guerrillas

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Twenty-one soldiers, including a brigadier general, have confessed to taking part in the execution of hundreds of civilians, whom they later portrayed as rebels killed in battle, the Special Peace Tribunal for Peace (JEP) announced today.

The 21 defendants, members of the Colombian armed forces, have confessed to killing 247 people during the decade 2000-2010, Judge Catalina Dias said in a press conference. The executions took place in the Cattatumbo coca area (120 victims), on the border with Venezuela and on the Caribbean coast (127).

One civilian also confessed to being a “collaborator” of the military in their “illegal acts”.

The special court has prosecuted 25 soldiers for the cold-blooded execution of young men, most of them poor villagers. The victims were then portrayed as rebels fighting to improve the “performance” of the military in the war against insurgents and armed groups.

Last February, the JEP estimated that at least 6,402 civilians had been killed by soldiers between 2002 and 2008, three times as many as the prosecution had previously estimated.

The revelation of these executions is one of the biggest scandals in which the Colombian armed forces have ever been involved. The top military administration and former President Alvaro Uribe (2002-8) denied that this was a “systematic action”.

The military held accountable the guerrillas and drug dealers who were killed, and with these “positive” results they won medals and promotions. Thousands of the dead were, in fact, ordinary civilians who were executed in cold blood.

Among the military who pleaded guilty was Brigadier General Paulino Coronado, a former 30th Brigade commander operating in the border area. According to the JEP, the brigadier apologized for “the great pain he caused” with “these heinous acts that led to the death of innocent people” and “filled their loved ones with deep sorrow”.

Source: AMPE

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Source From: Capital

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