Colombia’s former army commander is facing more than 100 testimonies that would prove how his orders set in motion a bloodbath unseen in the country’s armed conflict even after his resignation.
Newspaper El Espectador obtained the 2008 military order by Montoya’s successor, general Freddy Padilla, that sought to stop the mass killing allegedly instigated by General Mario Montoya after he demanded his subordinated “buckets of blood.”
According to the newspaper, a prosecution report sent to the war crimes tribunal demonstrated that Padilla’s order to prioritize “the collective and individual demobilization over captures, and these over combat kills” was ignored by soldiers who, apparently loyal to Montoya, assassinated another 100 civilians.
The prosecution reportedly informed the court that Montoya allegedly challenged his successor’s order and continued to promote combat kills over arrests or the surrender of enemy combatants from guerrilla group like the FARC and ELN.
Victims: If the evidence was there, why were no charges filed?
Victim representatives do not understand why the prosecution never proceeded to charge Montoya if it had evidence about his involvement in mass murder, attorney German Romero told the newspaper.
It is absurd that having a hundred identified cases with that same pattern he has not been charged. Montoya has always said that he never gave illegal orders and only asked for results. But in the file there is exhaustive evidence of how Montoya only demanded deaths.
Victims attorney German Romero
Montoya’s attorney told the newspaper that his client could impossibly be charged with any crimes. Defense attorney Andres Garzon told the newspaper that Montoya did was he had to do, give military instructions, and is not responsible how these instructions were interpreted by mid-level commanders or soldiers.
We’re not closely familiar with the study and we were never even allowed to read it, but from the little that has been made public it is evident that they went to the most outlandish and inapplicable theories to try to link General Montoya with these atrocities.
Montoya’s attorney Andres Garzon
Furthermore, Montoya’s lawyer said that any murders committed after November 2007 ignored “the instructions given in the human rights directives given during the training of troops.”
Montoya not likely to go down without a fight
The case against Montoya is one of the most tense that is currently being investigated by the war crimes tribunal.
As his lawyer indicated, Montoya refuses to take any responsibility for mass killings that happened under his watch. Those who contradict the former general have suffered death threats and even assassination attempts.
The Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) last month felt forced to order extraordinary security measures for witnesses testifying against the former army chief who some hold responsible for the deaths of thousands of civilians, ties to crime lord “Don Berna” and terrorist attacks.
While Montoya has a lot to gain — his submission before the JEP allows him to evade a possible 40-year prison sentence — the hard-line military commander also has a lot to lose.
The man who once was heralded as a national hero and believes he can maintain his military honors could go into history as one of the country’s most bloodthirsty criminals, a decorated version of mass murderer Luis Garavito.