15 soldiers sentenced for ‘false positives’ murders

Fifteen Colombian army soldiers were sentenced to 25 and 26 years in prison Wednesday for the 2006 murder of five men who were later presented as guerrillas killed in combat.

A judge in the central Colombian city of Ibague convicted the members of the elite anti-kidnapping squad for the extrajudicial execution of five members of a soccer team.

Following the massacre, the victims were reported as rebels killed in combat, a phenomenon which has become known as “false positives” and for which hundreds of members of the security forces are investigated.

The commander of the squad was given a 26-year sentence while his subordinates were given 25 years.

“Today we can’t say we are happy because it has been five years of struggle, but we are more calm because justice is being done,” a relative of one of the victims who asked not to be named told El Tiempo newspaper.

According to the latest report of Colombia’s Prosecutor General’s Office, members of the armed forces are suspect in 8,295 cases of human rights violations, including 1,598 “false positive” cases.

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