Colombia’s former army commander is facing prison for a series of alleged crimes, but the one with a 40-year penalty is about his alleged complicity in the killing and promoting of killing of thousands of civilians.
One of Montoya’s colleagues, General William Torres, was arrested on Monday for his alleged complicity in the murder of numerous civilians, and Montoya is soon awaiting the same fate, the prosecution announced.
Colombia’s military began killing civilians when General Mario Montoya was still a brigade commander in Medellin. However, with his rise in the military, the National Army’s killing of civilians to increase success rates rose too.
As commander of Colombia’s National Army between 2006 and 2008, Montoya failed to take action to prevent his men from engaging in killing civilians to collect bonuses, he openly promoted the criminal practice in various divisions throughout the country, according to the prosecution.
“The decision is made by the omissions of General Mario Montoya, who as army commander could have prevented the realization of ‘false positives’ in military units,” a prosecution source told newspaper El Tiempo.
This thesis of the prosecution reportedly called for the allocation of charges for at least 10 murder cases against the former Army chief.
It also suggested that the practice of creating the euphemistically dubbed false positives phenomenon was countrywide and carried out within the knowledge of Montoya.
The prosecution source noted that Montoya is charged with responsibility in several deaths in fake fighting occurred between 2006 and 2007.
This group is one of the victims of “false positives” who were recruited in Soacha, a city bordering the capital Bogota and whose case uncovered the scandal.
Although false positives investigated during Montoya’s command number over 2,000, the Prosecutor defined a decade that considered, it would show that this was a systematic criminal practice spread throughout the country.
Civilian killings subtracted from reported combat kills
On Monday, General Henry Torres , who currently holds an administrative position within the turned himself in as soon as the arrest order on charges of murder against him was issued.
The case of Torrres adds further weight to the prosecution’s claim that the practice of issuing false positives was rife throughout the army, with the full knowledge of Army boss Montoya.
The testimony of Army Lieutenant Marco Garcia, sentenced to 22 years in prison for his role in “false positives” committed in Casanare, was instrumental in the investigation that led to the issuing of an arrest warrant against Torres.
Lieutenant Garcia told investigators that Torres, who was commander of the 16th Brigade in Yopal, was aware of the false positives that were being committed in their jurisdiction.
The general must explain two deaths: those of Daniel Torres Arciniegas and his son, Roque Julio Torres.
In March 2007, farmers were presented as members of the guerrilla who allegedly killed in a battle with soldiers Counterinsurgency Battalion No. 65 Brigade XVI in rural Aguazul (Casanare).
Roque Julio Torres was a witness in another case of extrajudicial execution committed in the same area, and the thesis of the researchers is that his death was given to stop their complaints.
The Army Command issued a statement Monday in which he states that continues to cooperate in investigations and requests that fundamental rights are guaranteed officer.
“This difficult and complex situation that afflicts men and women of our institution we respect and abide by, hoping that the orders of the authorities responsible for these cases are part of the fundamental premises of truth, law and justice” , the military said.
The interrogation of Montoya is part of an ongoing investigation involving 22 generals from the Colombian army.
The arrest of Torres this week enables the prosecution to compile further evidence about the pattern of false positives in the army as a whole.
The modus operandi and the profile of some of the – victims, people with criminal records, drug users-reinforce the hypothesis that there might be a strategy promoted or condoned by senior officers to show better operating results.
The prosecution noted that Montoya as head of the army had a duty to protect victims that were presented as combat casualties under the guidelines of the Geneva Convention which cites protection of civilians during hostilities.
Prosecutors in the case consider Montoya, commander of the Army between February 2006 and November 2008, said that he did not give the instructions to impose checks and balances on the reward system, the decorations and leaves granted to military units who produced most kills. And that [he] was one of the primary promoters of prioritizing kills in combat, the so-called bodycount, over captures.
According to the researchers, there were warnings of NGOs and officers who allegedly were not taken into account by the general.
In the file there are reports on allegations of false positives whose impact would have been triggered during the command of Montoya, reaching 1,161 suspected cases of extrajudicial executions in 2007.
Montoya faces a sentence of up to 40 years ahead of a court appearance in Bogota on May 31.