The former head of intelligence for an army battalion in Cali, Sergeant Luis Eduardo Mahecha, has been found guilty of the extrajudicial killing of a peasant who he later falsely claimed was a FARC guerrilla, El Espectador reports.
The prosecutor of the National Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law unit (DIH) demonstrated that the victim, Jose Orlando Giraldo Becerra, who was killed March 11, 2006, had not died not because of clashes between security forces and the FARC but instead was a defenseless farmer who was executed.
Giraldo’s brother was also killed three years later in what his family claims was an effort to silence him by the army to prevent him from testifying.
Agents from the Technical Investigation Team (CTI) added that the army battalion responsible had handled the crime scene so as to try and present it as a battle site and conceal any incriminating evidence. Seven military personnel were also convicted for their roles in the cover up.
Sergeant Mahecha will now be transferred to a local penitentiary where he will await sentencing.
In a case last year, three soldiers received a sentence of 40 years for their “false positive” crimes. Some estimate that thousands of people may have been murdered in such cases, where the army kill civilians then claim they were enemy combatants, in order to inflate kill counts.