Posted by Camilla Pease-Watkin on Jan 26, 2010 Leave a comment

Government treats false positives suspects to day of festivities

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Colombia news - Soacha suspects

46 Colombian soldiers suspected of committing extrajudicial killings were this weekend treated to a day of clowns, aromatherapy and fine dining.

The soldiers have been confined to military bases south of Bogota since the beginning of the year whilst they await trial for the kidnapping and killing of eleven young men in Soacha in 2008.

The event, referred to as a “civic-military” day and organized by the Department of Human Rights for the Armed Forces, saw the confined soldiers receive visits from family members, as well as the commander of the Military Forces, Freddy Padilla.

Soldiers and their families were given the opportunity to attend a morning mass and several talks by psychologists. Later, the men were sent to candle-filled clubs to experience meditation and aromatherapy, whilst family members received spa treatments in another location. Children were entertained by a group of clowns.

“The general told us he was sorry for our situation and that he was there to support us and our boys, but that they had to wait for the result of the trial. But for us the celebration was bitter-sweet,” the mother of one of the soldiers told El Tiempo.

Padilla said the aim of the event was “to show family members that the soldiers were in living in perfect conditions and that they were receiving psychological support.”

The military suspects were recently released from prison after a judge ruled the prosecution had not called the soldiers to trial on time. They are awaiting trial in one of the country’s biggest scandals, involving members of the armed forces killing civilians and reporting them as guerrillas killed in action, in order to make the war against left-wing guerrilla groups look more effective.