Colombia’s National Army chief, who has already been linked to multiple homicides, is under criminal investigation for embezzlement.
The misappropriated funds were paid to the Fourth Army Brigade and the Pedro Nel Ospina Battalion for security and transportation services to ship explosive material to mining companies.
The explosive material, Indugel, was produced and sold to the mining company by Indumil, a military-run weapons manufacturer.
The alleged embezzlement became known to the courts because of an inspection carried out between 2012 and 2014 by the Institutional Transparency Action Group of the Ministry of Defense, which led to the discharge of at least 10 military officials.
The criminal embezzlement investigation against the Army commander was brought before the Supreme Court by public prosecutors in 2014.
The embattled Major General Nicacio Martinez is already facing fierce scrutiny after earlier this month the New York Times reported he had ordered soldiers to double kill-counts, promised rewards for killed enemy combatants and lowered the standard on when soldiers may engage in combat.
The bombshell revelations by the New York Times have shook the establishment, bringing back painful memories of thousands of executed civilians who were killed by the military under a similar policy under former President Alvaro Uribe.
Human Rights Watch and the Associated Press have independently presented evidence that link Martinez to a total of 30 homicide cases. According to documents reported on by the AP, the current army chief in 2005 signed off on payments for the killing of seven civilians who were presented as guerrillas.
HRW found that the top army commander was second in command of the 10th brigade, currently under investigation by prosecutors for allegedly executing 23 civilians under his leadership.
When questioned by AP about the extrajudicial killings, the army chief denied any wrongdoing.
Alongside Martinez will appear before Congress next week to approve a promotion. Based on the evidence cited by HRW, several US Senators have sent a letter to President Ivan Duque calling on him to reconsider the promotion of Martinez as well as eight other military leaders and generals.
So far, Martinez has resisted resignation despite mounting national and international objections to his continued leadership, evidence indicating involvement in civilian homicides, and a criminal embezzlement investigation.