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Colombian generals investigated for role in mass killings of civilians: Report

Mario Montoya (top left), Jose Leonardo Gallego (top right), Jorge Arturo Salgado (bottom left) and Henry William Torres

Colombia’s Prosecutor General’s Office is investigating former army commander General Mario Montoya and three other generals for their alleged role in the extrajudicial killings of thousands of civilians, reported El Tiempo Sunday.

All generals are suspected to have carried a direct responsibility for the killing of civilians who were subsequently dressed up as civilians to be registered as guerrillas killed in combat. According to the United Nations, Colombia’s armed forces — in particular the army — killed 4,000 civilians to cook the books in regards to their institutions’ effectiveness, a practice that was euphemistically dubbed “false positives.”

FACT SHEET: False positives

“We are looking at their resumes, determining in which areas they have been and what relationship they had with officials who are on trial … this matching of data has revealed some coincidences that are being analyzed,” an anonymous source at the Prosecutor General’s Office told El Tiempo.

Investigated generals

Mario Montoya (Army)
Former commander of the National Army

Jose Leonardo Gallego (Police)
Former Medellin Police Commissioner

Jorge Arturo Salgado (Army)
Planning and Transformation chief of the National Army
Former commander of the Army’s 11th Brigade

Henry William Torres
Commander of the Army’s 5th Division

Both Montoya and Gallego were active in the Antioquia department where most cases of false positive were found. According to data provided by the Prosecutor General’s Office, more than 400 Antioquia citizens were killed and dressed up as guerrillas.

Both officials were already being investigated for their alleged ties to extradited AUC warlord “Don Berna,” who — together with residents — have accused Montoya and Gallego of collaborating with the AUC in operations to remove left-wing militias from Medellin.

MORE: Former army chief aligned with paramilitaries: Don Berna

Part of the investigation is to establish whether the army helped cover up paramilitary killings by reporting these deaths as guerrillas killed in combat, something that has been alleged by former paramilitary warlord H.H., who was subsequently extradited to the U.S.

So far, no Colombian general has been charged with complicity in the mass killings of civilians that, according to a purification of army figures, grew so common that in 2007, at least one in five reported combat kills was in fact an executed civilian.

Reported combat kills minus established false positives

Since the breaking of the scandal in 2008, thousands of members of the armed forces have been charged with homicide. Several hundred have been convicted.

Colombian generals investigated for role in mass killings of civilians: Report was last modified: February 26th, 2015 by
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