Colombia’s army defends generals accused of killing civilians

General Jaime Lasprilla (Photo: Associated Press)

The commander of the Colombian army defended nine top army personnel under investigation for their complicity in a scandal involving the murder of thousands of civilians. 

Army General Jaime Lasprilla went on national radio Thursday to defend the “honest men” currently under investigation for their involvement in the notorious military scandal known as “false positives.”

“False positives” refers to the military practice of boosting kill rates by murdering civilians and disguised their bodies as rebel combatants, reportedly in exchange for bonuses and paid vacations. The practice reached its height under the command of former President Alvaro Uribe.

MORE: Colombia’s armed forces commander, 8 other generals, accused of ordering civilian killings

“They have only done good things for the country,” General Lasprilla told Colombia’s Blu Radio. “They are upright men who contributed significantly to the peace and security of [Colombia] through their work.”

Lasprilla deflected the issue of the generals’ culpability by pointing a finger at the tarnished reputation of former Colonel Robinson Gonzalez, himself charged with killing civilians and embezzlement of army funds, who has accused General Juan Pablo Rodriguez and eight more army generals of directly ordering the killing of civilians.

“The public is aware of the criminal record of Colonel Robinson Gonzalez,” said General Lasprilla.

MORE: Colombia’s armed forces commander, 8 other generals, accused of ordering civilian killings

False positives – the statistics

Extrajudicial killings by Colombia’s Armed Forces have left at least 3,896 civilians dead and more than 4,o00 members of the military under criminal investigation. In the year 2007, in which the highest number of false positives were registered, one in five reported combat kills were in fact civilians.

FACT SHEET: False positives

According to official prosecution statistics, 230 members of the military have been convicted for homicides related to the practice of “false positives.”


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