Colombia’s former Army chief Mario Montoya denied he had teamed up with paramilitary organization AUC to rid a poor Medellín neighborhood of guerrilla forces. Dozens of people reportedly disappeared in the 2002 operation.
Paramilitary warlord Don Berna told a New York federal court Tuesday that his Cacique Nutibara Block, together with the army’s 4th Division and the Police for ‘Operation Orion’.
In the counterinsurgency operation 68 people went missing, one minor was executed, 38 civilians were injured by bullets and 355 of the neighborhood’s inhabitants were illegally detained, NGOs say.
But Montoya, now ambassador to the Dominican Republic, denies the collaboration in the controversial operation and pointed out that a 2007 investigation by the Prosecutor General pointed out that “all procedures were carried out in adherence to the corresponding judicial protocols and didn’t find indication or merit to initiate any type of investigation.”
Montoya was celebrated as army commander as the coordinator of ‘Operation Jaque’, the operation that liberated Ingrid Betancourt, three U.S. hostages and eleven soldiers, but resigned from the army in October 2008 amid a growing scandal of military officials murdering civilians to make the war against illegal armed groups look more effective.
The Government appointed him ambassador to the Dominican Republic a few months after that.