Two army generals will be investigated in relation to crimes conducted by soldiers suspected of working in alliance with paramilitaries during a 2003 massacre in Tolima.
Military commanders acted too late in responding to allegations of the killings, and only then after they had been widely publicized in Colombian media, according to El Tiempo’s website.
The actions comes on the heels of the sentencing to 40 years in prison by a Bogota judge for just-retired Major Juan Carlos Rodriguez, otherwise known as “Zeus,” who had been arming a group of mercenaries for the infamous Don Diego. Rodriguez was sentenced in connection with a series of “false positive” murders in 2003 in the Cajamarca zone.
The same judge has now ordered the investigation of two generals, Tocarruncho Lelio Fadul Suárez, a former brigade commander of the Sixth Army, and former head of the Jaime Rook Batallion, Colonel Jose Fernando Mejia Araujo.
The judge ordered the investigations on “the commanders of the 6th Brigade and Jaime Rooke Batallion for omission and eventual deciding not to order any kind of procedure for the protection of the community of cañón del Anaime,” El Tiempo said. A decision on the investigation will follow in the coming days.
Prosecution proved that several ‘false positives‘ reported by the ‘Company Buffalo’, led by Rodriguez, were actually murders by paramilitaries of the Bloque Tolima. Several villagers were missing and there was torture to obtain confessions.
Rodriguez already has a conviction for drug trafficking and accepting cooperation from the ‘army’ of “Don Diego” He and two other soldiers were previously convicted of conspiracy, aggravated murder, murder of protected persons, torture, forced disappearance and kidnapping for ransom.
On that day in Tolima it appears soldiers stole 28 head of cattle from the victims. These animals, according to a report by the Tolima Highway Police, went to a ranch belonging to a Rodriguez family member.
Prosecutors also said Rodriguez used a “legal order to turn into a joint venture (with the AUC), and then obtained under torture and disappearance information to pass on to their superiors.”
The paramilitary group came to the area, which traditionally had a FARC, November 2, 2003.
Other stories say that the army patrolled jointly with the paramilitaries between November 3 and 12 in the villages, committing the murders. The last day, the patrol reported a fight with the AUC that, prosecutors said.
“Rodriguez opted for the fallacy of creating a ‘false positive’ in this case, all in order to deflect their responsibility,” El Tiempo reported.
In his ruling, the judge ordered that the families of the victims and survivors are admitted to the Victims Reparation Fund, and that the commanders pay civil damages.