The commander of Colombia’s armed forces and eight other generals have been accused of being complicit in a scandal involving the killing of thousands of civilians to inflate the military’s apparent effectiveness.
FACT SHEET: False positives
According to former Colonel Robinson Gonzalez, himself charged with killing civilians and embezzlement of army funds, Armed Forces commander General Juan Pablo Rodriguez and eight more army generals directly ordered the killing of civilians that became a widespread activity under the command of former President Alvaro Uribe.
One of the generals reportedly is Mario Montoya, who was forced to step down as Armed Forces commander in 2008 when US newspaper The Washington Post and Colombian weekly Semana revealed the ongoing killings.
Testimonies that had been leaked to media before, revealed Gonzalez indicated Montoya to be the “creator” of the practice that has left at least 3,896 civilians dead and more than 4,o00 members of the military under criminal investigation.
According to newspaper El Tiempo, the Prosecutor General’s Office formally informed the suspected generals, the military and the Supreme Court of the formal implication of the commanders in one of Colombia’s largest human rights scandals in recent history.
Rodriguez denied having been notified of the accusations, he told El Tiempo. “I’m calm. I have a clear conscience,” the commander was quoted as saying.
The now-implicated generals have been accused of taking part in 50 operations in which 64 civilians were executed, dressed up as guerrillas and falsely presented as combat kills, reported several media citing anonymous prosecution sources.
Rodriguez, a family member of jailed Army General and paramilitary collaborator Rito Alejo del Rio, reportedly agreed to plead guilty for homicide and embezzlement, and collaborate with justice in exchange for a lighter prison sentence.
According to official prosecution statistics, 230 members of the military have been convicted for homicides related to the practice of “false positives.”