A public prosecutor in Cucuta, in Colombia’s Norte de Santander department, asked paramilitaries to disguise young people as AUC members in order to improve the prosecution’s arrest statistics, according to former paramilitaries.
Former paramilitaries Jorge Ivan Laverde Zapata, alias “El Iguano,” and Albeiro Valderrama, alias “Piedras Blancas,” claim that Cucuta’s director of public prosecution, Ana Maria Florez, in 2006 asked them to disguise civilians as paramilitaries in order to provide good results to her superiors in Bogota, Radio Caracol reports.
The paramilitaries carried out this request, disguising two young women as paramilitaries.
“This is a false positive,” said Zapata. “I called Piedras Blancas because the prosecutor at that time, Ana Maria Florez, was pushing for positives.”
Valderrama later sent a group of paramilitaries to round up young people from the Sevilla neighborhood in Cucuta. The boys who were talked into coming along were put in a house with planted weapons, including ones linked to murders, and encouraged to drink alcohol.
“I told him to get them drunk so they would not realize there were going to be guns and little things in the house where they were going, because they did not know what we were going to do with them,” said Valderrama, who was commander of the AUC’s Urban Catatumbo Bloc.
The young men remained at the house drinking, while the paramilitary bosses contacted the public prosecution, who ordered a raid on the house early the next morning.
One of the young men, Fredy Vargas Diomendes Diaz, was sentenced on June 30, 2006, to 33 years and three months in prison on charges of conspiracy and aggravated murder.
The term “false positives” often refers to extra-judicial killings in Colombia, with the army dressing civilians in guerrilla uniforms and murdering them order to increase kill figures.