The Colombian government has upheld a decision to dismiss nine military officers for torturing 21 fellow soldiers during a counter-guerrilla training program in 2006, reported local media.
Colombia’s Prosecutor General’s office, on appeal, confirmed the dismissal of all nine officers belonging to the “Patriotas” battalion with three receiving the maximum 20-year suspension, one Corporal receiving 15 years and the rest 10 years.
The incidents which occurred in the Tolima department in central Colombia were first reported by magazine “Semana” in November 2009 from which shocking reports of abuse, torture and even rape emerged.
According to the reports 21 subordinates “were beaten with fists, kicks, sticks and machetes” during the one-day exercise.
Some soldiers received life-lasting burns on their bodies while others were forced to eat animal feces and subject to sexual attacks.
The “training” was designed by the officers to replicate a situation where the soldiers had been captured by guerrilla groups.
The Prosecution office stated. “The evidence showed that the development of the practice was to overcome a checkpoint simulation and subsequent kidnapping by a guerrilla group, the soldiers had their eyes covered and their hands tied.”
“Under this condition of helplessness they were verbally attacked and intimidated, beaten hard, repeatedly force fed salt sand, urine or other elements. They were then burned in various parts of their bodies including their faces.
“They were also submerged in mud puddles with manure or water to provoke symptoms of drowning then they had ants put in their ears and their bodies touched by a plant known as “pringamoza” which produces intense itching and irritation. Research showed that three soldiers were totally helpless and were blindfolded, tied up and subjected to sexual abuse, which also constitutes torture.”
The three officers given the harshest suspension were Jose Rafael Tarazona Villamizar, Muriel Sergio Andres Alonso Quiroga and Jairo Lora Fuentes.
Pachon Javier Arturo Reina, Mestra Hugo Alberto Agudelo, Edwin Alberto Avila Mesa, Lennyn Jhon Ramirez Cruz, and Yeisson Alvaro Sanchez Acosta were all given 10 years while Juan Pablo Rodriguez Bermudez was given 15 years.