The Colombian government appointed a colonel with alleged paramilitary
ties to coordinate personnel changes of the criticized Military
Tribunal, opposition senator Gustavo Petro said Monday.
According to Petro, colonel Edgar Emilo Ávila was appointed by the Ministry of Defense to coordinate the military court, despite a pending investigation into possible ties to demobilized paramilitary organization AUC.
The Polo Democratico senator said that Avila, without any explanation, has replaced 30 percent of the Military Tribunal officials, in charge of a number of pending trials against members of the military.
In a response, Defense Minister and Armed Forces commander Freddy Padilla denies knowing of personnel changes within the military justice system.
“This Ministry reiterates that it has been respectful towards the autonomy of the Executive Director of the Military Penal Tribunal, who is the only one authorized to decide about personnel changes and administrative issues of this special jurisduction,” Padilla expressed in a statement.
However, the minister does say to be concerned about the personnel changes.
Colombia’s Military Tribunal has been fiercely criticized by human rights groups that say that the tribunal purposely leaves many crimes committed by members of the security forces in impunity.
The United Nation’s Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions started an investigation Monday into the allegedly “widespread and systematic” murder of civilians to make the country’s war against illegal armed groups look more effective.