Four Colombian army soldiers were charged Thursday for the “false positive” murders of three civilians who the soldiers presented as guerrillas killed in combat.
A Colombian court sentenced the four soldiers to 31 years and four months each for murdering construction builder Albeiro David Meza and the two cycle rickshaw drivers Hamilton Fuentes and Willis Monterrosa on July 6, 2007.
All three men were contracted for an alleged work on a cotton farm in the northern Sucre department where they were then shot and dressed up as guerrillas.
The soldiers were convicted for the murder of protected persons, aggravated forced disappearance, conspiracy, falsification of public documents and fraud.
The case adds to the long list in the scandal of false positives. The scandal was revealed in 2008, when a number of cases were discovered in which Colombia’s armed forces had killed innocent civilians and then posthumously presented them as guerrillas to improve the army kill counts.
According to the Prosecutor General’s Office, some 2,000 Colombian civilians have been murdered by the armed forces to up the security forces’ apparent effectiveness in the fight against illegal armed groups.