A judge convicted five members of the Colombian military for the extrajudicial murders of five farmers who were presented as combat kills.
Over the course of several incidents in 2004 a military patrol killed five civilians of the Granada municipality in the Antioquia department, and then dressed them in guerrilla fatigues in order to present them as combat kills in the conflict against the FARC.
Thousands of extrajudicial killings of Colombian civilians were presented as combat kills in the last 12 years. These cases are known as the false positives. Colombian courts have been slow to prosecute them, receiving criticism from international human rights groups including the United Nations (UN).
According to an investigation by the prosecutor general, in one incident in 2004 the patrol logged a written report claiming, “the military squad repelled an attack” and as a result of the confrontation killed two guerrillas in possession of war materials.
The judge sentenced the soldiers to prison terms between 15 and 20 years for charges of forced displacement, kidnapping, and homicide.
The names of the soldiers are: Carlos Mario Callejas Monsalve, Darío Alfonso Calderon Cataño, Edgar de Jesus Sanchez Restrepo, Manuel Fernando Romero Amaya and Mauricio de Jesus Rojas Ortega.
“Given the scope of the false positives crisis, too few of those responsible have been removed from service or prosecuted. High ranking officials linked to these human rights crimes remain in active service and continue to be promoted,” the United Nations’ Colombia office of human rights (OHCHR) said in their annual report. The report refers to the 4,716 alleged murders “presumably perpetrated by members of the security forces” in an effort to falsely augment the number of enemy kills in the state’s ongoing armed conflict with guerrilla groups.