The entire former command of an army battalion based in Medellin is investigated for the alleged killing of more than 70 civilians who were dressed up as guerrillas and secured numerous honors for the unit.
According to weekly Semana, all five then-commanders of the Pedro Nel Ospina battalion, a unit belonging to the 4th Brigade stations in Medellin, are investigated for the murder of 72 people between 2006 and 2007, the years in which the military committed most “false positives,” or extrajudicial killings of more than 4,000 civilians.
Over the past few months and out of sight from the media, prosecution officials arrested the unit’s then-commander, the second-in-command, the operations chief and two assistant operation chiefs of the unit.
All five suspects are ranked colonel.
The Pedro Nel Ospina battalion is responsible for security in the Comuna 13, a district in the east of Medellin, and the Oriente region of Antioquia, one of the hardest hit by the military killings that has left hundreds of soldiers in prison.
Antioquia military killings
According to Semana, a Medellin human rights prosecutor was able to link the 72 homicides to the Pedro Nel Ospina brigade, claiming the killing of civilians to increase their apparent effectiveness had become part of the unit’s Modus Operandi.
The high number of reported combat kills led the army to congratulate the unit for being its most effective unit in Colombia in 2006.
The top commander of the unit, Colonel Edgar Avila, received training in the United States, Spain, France, Italy, Switzerland, and is a former member of a United Nations peace keeping mission in Egypt and the former director of the National Army’s judicial department.
In spite of having led one of the most homicidal of military units that eventually led to his imprisonment, the colonel received 32 honorary medals.
Coronel Ávila se despidió con resultados del Pedro N. Ospina (El Colombiano)
El Batallón que ganó el concurso de falsos positivos (La Silla Vacia)
Sinaí Mision de Paz (National Army)
El batallón de la muerte (Semana)