An army colonel and a captain were sentenced to 50 years in prison this Tuesday for executing two men whose murders were later fraudulently filed as combat kills.
Such extrajudicial killings are part of a military scandal euphemistically called “false positives” in Colombia and implicates thousands of members of the security forces.
In order to receive pay bonuses, members of the armed forces would kill innocent civilians and then disguise the bodies as guerrilla fighters so they would count as combat kills.
Hundreds of soldiers have already been sentenced to prison for these mass killings, but the sentencing of military officials as high up in the hierarchy as the now-imprisoned colonel has been a rarity.
While the real number of victims is still unknown, the prosecution has identified at least 3,000 victims of executions of the army.
The victims of this incident, which took place in the town of Yondo, Antioquia in 2008, were Javier Leonardo Franco and Robinson Trujillo.
According to the army unit, the two victims had ignored a stop sign and opened fire at the military patrol. However, forensic scientists found this was false.
In court it became clear that the two men had been asked to visit the army unit, after which the two were executed.
According to prosecutors, the bodies were then manipulated and arranged with two weapons and a grenade to make it look like they were members of an illegal armed group.
Two soldiers were given a jail sentences of 49 and 25 years in prison.
The sentences come after another Colombian army colonel was sent to prison last month following a similar crime in the Caldas province.