Colombia’s Prosecutor General’s Office on Wednesday called 29 soldiers to trial for their alleged involvement in the 2005 murder of two civilians, who the soldiers reported as guerrillas killed in combat.
The victims, Frank Enrique Martinez and Claudino Manuel Olmedo, were killed in the northern Colombian town of La Paz, Cesar department, in May 2005.
An investigation by the Prosecutor General’s Office revealed that the men were not members of the FARC and were not killed in a clash with the military.
A prosecutor from the Human Rights Unit asked that a sergeant, two corporals, and 26 soldiers be charged for murder.
The case is part of the “false positive” scandal in which the military were revealed to have inflated kill counts by murdering civilians and claiming they were guerrillas. Some estimates put the number of dead at 2,000.
The phenomenon came to the nation’s attention in 2008 when eleven young people from Soacha, a town near Bogota, disappeared and were later found dead 500 miles from home. The military claimed that they were guerrillas killed in combat, but relatives insisted that the victims were not part of any armed group.
The U.N. Committee for Human Rights has criticized the Colombian government for creating a system where the “systematic practice” of “false positives” is incentivized.
Colombia’s Prosecutor General announced the formation of a new investigative body to examine thousands of unidentified bodies, and report on potential “false positives.”