Colombian authorities have arrested retired General Francisco Rene Pedraza Pelaez for his alleged involvement in the massacre of at least 26 peasants and indigenous in 2001 in the south west of the country.
The retired general was arrested by prosecution officials in the headquarters of the Army’s 4th Division in Medellin.
His arrest had been warranted by a human rights prosecutor, who considers that there is enough evidence to try the former military official for multiple aggravated murder, aggravated forced displacement, conspiracy to commit a crime and terrorism.
The Alto Naya massacre of which Pedraza Pelaez is allegedly responsible, was committed by death squads of the paramilitary organization AUC. The paramilitaries entered the area on the border of Cauca and Valle del Cauca on April 12, 2001 with a list of names of people who allegedly collaborated with the FARC.
The suspected guerrilla aides were all murdered during the three days that paramilitaries stayed in the area. Witnesses say the paramilitaries killed their victims with chainsaws and machetes.
Sixty former paramilitaries, among them warlord Ever ‘HH’ Veloza, have already been convicted for the massacre.
The prosecutor’s office said in a statement on Thursday that Pedraza is suspected of failing to act to stop the killings.
At the time, Pedraza was commander of the brigade that had jurisdiction over the region in question, but never acted while his troops had been warned about the ongoing massacre.
Pedraza could not be reached for comment and it was not immediately clear if he had contracted a lawyer.