Colombian Defense Minister Gabriel Silva defended commander of the armed forces, General Freddy Padilla on Thursday against “false accusations” made against him by “traitors,” over the general’s role in the “false positives” scandal, in which soldiers murdered civilians to inflate rebel kill statistics.
Speaking at a military ceremony in Bogota, Silva apologized to Padilla for the false accusations and told him that “the entire country joins in one voice to reject these claims,” which he said form part of an ongoing campaign by “traitors” to Colombia to sully the name of the armed forces commander, and “divert the country into a direction of deception and lies.”
“This hurts us … that the enemies of the country find ways to muddy the name of those who have walked this difficult road … False allegations and lies seek to affect the honor of our commanding general of the armed forces,” the defense minister said.
Silva went on to say that, to him, these false allegations amount to “moral treason,” and that he doesn’t hesitate “to classify those that hide … in order to attack the men that defend the country as traitors.”
Silva’s defense of Padilla comes after Colombian President Alvaro Uribe blasted the country’s prosecutors for seeking to question the general over the “false positives” scandal.
“I categorically reject the accusations against Freddy Padilla … useful idiots are looking to threaten democratic security, but General Padilla is satisfied that the Colombian people are with him,” Uribe said on Thursday at a police college south of Bogota.
Last month, Padilla submitted a letter of resignation to Uribe, which was formally accepted by the president last week.
According to reports, Padilla cited a desire to spend more time with his family and return to a peaceful civilian life after five years as head of the army as the reason for his resignation.