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New Evidence Links Colombia Army Chief to Civilian Slayings
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=33791"><span class="small">teleSUR</span></a>   
Monday, 27 May 2019 13:56

Excerpt: "New documents have emerged linking the Commander of the Colombian National Army, General Nicacio Martinez Espinel, to the alleged cover-up of civilian killings in 'false positive' operations during the 2000s."

A Colombian policeman stands guard in front of workers. (photo: Jose Gomez/Reuters)
A Colombian policeman stands guard in front of workers. (photo: Jose Gomez/Reuters)


New Evidence Links Colombia Army Chief to Civilian Slayings

By teleSUR

27 May 19


The evidence shows that the Colombian officer in 2005 authorized at least seven payments to supposed informants whose names and IDs didn’t match, turning out to be Colombian soldiers related to “false positive” operations.

ew documents have emerged linking the Commander of the Colombian National Army, General Nicacio Martinez Espinel, to the alleged cover-up of civilian killings in “false positive” operations during the 2000s, according to exclusive information obtained by The Associated Press.

The evidence was provided by an anonymous source from Colombia’s prosecutor’s office and show that the Colombian officer in 2005 authorized at least seven payments, which never exceeded US$500, to supposed informants whose names and IDs didn’t match, turning out to be Colombian soldiers related to “false positive” operations. 

In two cases, judicial investigators found the real beneficiary was a soldier a Colombian soldier, Oscar Alfonso Murgas, who has been sentenced to 40 years for his role in civilian killings. Another hidden recipient, whom Martinez Espinel signed off to, was a former paramilitary commander sentenced to 15 years for extortion.

“A decade ago, soldiers across Colombia lured civilians to remote locations under false pretenses — such as with promises of work — killed them, placed weapons on their lifeless bodies, and then reported them as enemy combatants killed in action,” Americas director at Human Rights Watch, Jose Miguel Vivanco, said, adding that  “one can’t help wonder if any of the cockades in their uniforms, or the promotions throughout ‘successful’ careers, corresponds to the murder of innocent civilians committed over a decade ago.”

Yet this is not the first time General Martinez Espinel has been associated with extrajudicial murders. During the 2000s, as United States-backed Plan Colombia was in its height, he was the second-in-command of the 10th Brigade in northeast Colombia, years on which prosecutors have probed 23 illegal killings, including the death of an indigenous civilian and 13-year-old girl. 

A national court later convicted two soldiers for abducting them from their home, murdering them and putting weapons on their bodies so they appeared to be rebels, a practice that is known as “false positives.”

In context, at least 1,750 members of Colombia's army were involved in creating "false positives." According to Colombia's Office of the Attorney General, this phenomenon claimed the lives of at least 2,248 persons between 1988 and 2014.

The Colombian government provided an incentive for these extrajudicial killings by issuing a secret order, called "Directive 29," that offered a financial reward to those who killed guerrillas or paramilitaries. Fifteen years later not a single top commander has been held accountable for the slayings.

And the impunity and continuous use of these practices are still seen until today. In 2018, the United Nations (U.N.) found 11 new cases of alleged “false positive” executions registered in Antioquia, Arauca, Huila, La Guajira, Magdalena, and Northern Santander. “National police would allegedly be responsible for six cases, and the army of five”, the UN affirms.

Opposition voices in Colombian have called on Martinez Espinel to resign, pointing to the cases of suspicious killings and cover-ups by soldiers under his command. However, the country’s right-wing President Ivan Duque continues to stand by the commander.

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0 # Texas Aggie 2019-05-28 07:44
And yesterday there was an article in the BBC(?) praising Colombia for being a sterling example of democracy in South America. Plan Colombia is the model that the US is using and was promoting as the model for all of Latin America.