82 convictions out of 1,486 ‘false positive’ cases prompt investigation

The Supreme Judicial Council will investigate complaints by the prosecutor general over delay tactics contributing to only 82 convictions out of 1,486 investigations into alleged “false positive” extrajudicial executions, Caracol Radio reported Wednesday.

According to statistics from the Unit for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, the 1,486 “false positive” investigations relate to 2,701 victims, a figure that includes 135 children.

Although only 82 convictions have been made, this does not signify a verdict of innocence for the others, with many of the cases languishing in the preliminary or pre-trial stage.

Prosecutor General Viviane Morales blamed military delay tactics for the lack of convictions on Tuesday, calling for an investigation, as well as court intervention, into “repeated and systematic” delays by the defense.

One tactic that has been used by a number of accused is to constantly change defense lawyers, forcing the presiding judge to continually postpone the trials or hearings.

The Supreme Judicial Council has responded to Morales’ requests and will open investigations into the lack of progress.

El Tiempo reported that many of the “false positive” cases, even the high-profile ones, are at least two or three years behind schedule.

Besides military delay tactics, a recent report by a group of international lawyers emphasized that the legal profession in Colombia is severely under-staffed, with prosecutors in some places being assigned up to 2,500 paramilitary cases each.

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