Graphic new evidence of alleged “false positive” murders of civilians by the Colombian army, much of it collected by the former military Judge Alexander Corte, is published by the magazine Semana this week.
The evidence, in the form of photographs, recordings, witness statements, and forensic reports, allegedly shows that the army carried out a significant number of extra-judicial murders of civilians between 2007 and 2008, and then reported them as guerrillas killed in combat.
Cortes, who oversaw a number of so-called “false positives” cases in Uraba, Antioquia, between 2007 and 2008, criticized “irregularities” in combat casualties reported by the Colombian army.
The magazine also obtained a recording of Captain Duvan Hernandez of the 17th Brigade asking for a paramilitary to supply him with weapons to disguise a civilian as a guerrilla.
Speaking to W Radio, Cortes, who was dismissed in 2009 on grounds of being “ineffectual,” said the revelations were “very compromising” and proved there was “an absolute set up” by Captain Duvan Hernandez to make it seem as if a civilian was a guerrilla killed in combat.
The former judge said that perpetrators in many similar cases have met with impunity.
In the recording, Captain Duvan Hernandez is heard in conversation with his superior, a colonel, who tells him that any dead must be reported as FARC guerrillas. The captain is then heard making a number of desperate phone calls to presumed paramilitaries in the region. He is later heard telling an unidentified paramilitary that there is a “problem,” in that one of the dead man is unarmed and needs to have a weapon planted on him.
After noticing a number of alleged irregularities in the reported killings by the Colombian army, Cortes began to transfer the cases through the ordinary courts. The judge said that of the 56 cases sent to the prosecutor for investigation, only one progressed beyond preliminary stages.
Some of the so-called “irregularities” uncovered by Cortes, some of which include photographs of dead “guerrillas” – among them children – in abnormal positions and carrying old, unusable weaponry. A post mortem also revealed that one alleged FARC member suffered from sickle cell anemia, an inherited disease which causes severe back pain and difficulty moving.
The judge said the release of Captain Duvan Hernandez due to the expiration of legal deadlines was something that “does not fit into anyone’s head.” He also expressed fears for his life because “in this country telling the truth is a problem” because judges “do things and the world is upon us.”