Evidence obtained by the Associated Press links Colombia’s national army commander to seven homicides that would add to the 23 he was already linked to by Human Rights Watch.
The bombshell report adds further pressure on embattled Major General Nicacio Martinez, who came under fire last week after the New York Times reported that he had ordered troops to double the number of combat kills and captures.
Martinez has so far refused to resign despite mounting criticism over his leadership and a growing pile of evidence indicating his involvement in the murders of civilians.
According to AP, documents from the Prosecutor General’s Office show that the current army chief in 2005 signed off on payments made as compensation for the killing of civilians.
Some of the rewards, which never exceeded $500, went to supposed informants whose names and IDs didn’t match. In two cases, judicial investigators found the real beneficiary was soldier Oscar Alfonso Murgas, who would go on to be sentenced to 40 years for his role in a third, unrelated civilian killing. One hidden recipient was a former paramilitary commander sentenced to 15 years for extortion.
The Associated Press
On two occasions, Martinez reportedly vouched for intelligence information that would lead to homicides reported as combat killed three days later.
In a response, the army chief told AP that he is not facing any criminal or disciplinary investigations. In fact, Congress is currently considering to promote Martinez, despite mounting evidence he was involved in multiple murders.
Human Rights Watch Jose Miguel Vivanco told AP that it’s no surprise Martinez isn’t under investigation given Colombian authorities’willingness to turn a blind eye to the responsibility of top commanders in the extrajudicial execution of more than 4,500 civilians.
So far, not one general has been taken to court of the mass killings that took place throughout Colombia, particularly between 2002 and 2008 when Alvaro Uribe was president.
President Ivan Duque, Uribe’s protege, promoted Martinez to commander of the National Army in December.