Major Orlando Arturo Cespedes Escalona, deputy commander of the joint task force in Sucre, will be tried for his part in the killing. The murder is part of Colombia’s “false positives” scandal, where Colombia’s armed forces have killed innocent civilians and posed them as enemy guerrillas to inflate their kill counts of enemy units.
During the summer of 2007, 11 Colombian farmers from the Sucre district were offered $426 by army civilian recruiters for agricultural work. The farmers were then murdered and reported as combatants killed by the military several months later.
Major Escalona was arrested in October 2010 for his part in the killing and will now face prosecution under a special human rights unit. Several recruiters involved in the murder have already been sentenced to up to 25 years in prison. Escalona’s commander, Colonel Luis Fernando Borja Aristizabal, who was in command of the Sucre military unit, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for his part in a false positive killing.
As of last year there have been an estimated 3,000 cases of false positive killings in Colombia since 2002.