Colombia’s President has rejected the accusations made against the former commander of the country’s armed forces, General Freddy Padilla, that he was actively involved in the “false positives” scandal.
Speaking on Wednesday at the end of a visit to a military base in Caqueta state, south Colombia, President Juan Manuel Santos rejected “in the most emphatic way” the accusation that Padilla had been involved in the false positives scandal, in which the armed forces, in collusion with paramilitary groups, kidnapped and killed an estimated 3900 civilians, before dressing them up as guerrillas and presenting them as combat kills.
“General Padilla was the general commander of the Armed Forces,” said Santos. “We worked together for almost three years, and I know that General Padilla was always respectful, like no other, of human rights. What’s more, within the armed forces he was the leader of a change in doctrine, moving towards greater respect for human rights.”
The accusation against Padilla was made by the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR). In an 18-page dossier released on August 19 and made public last week, the NGO claimed that the “systematic nature” of the crimes committed during the false positives scandal means that the lower-ranked soldiers “must have had to report to the Central Commanders.”
As a result of the dossier, Padilla resigned as Colombia’s Ambassador to Austria, and also resigned his diplomatic involvement with the Czech Republic, Croatia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Hungary. The ECCHR had asked that “Europe not allow itself to become a safe haven for war criminals.”
In his defense of the general, the President said that before “Operacion Jaque” (Operation Check) on July 2, 2008 – which resulted in the liberation of, among others, the former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt – Padilla had asked his soldiers not to fire on the FARC guerrillas in charge of the camp where the hostages were held.
He also said that during training courses for soldiers, Padilla “showed them the importance of respecting the human rights of the population, because that was the basis of the legitimacy of the armed forces.”
“That is why, and I say it with complete conviction, I reject clearly and categorically this accusation against General Padilla,” Santos concluded.
- Presidente Santos rechaza acusaciones de ONG contra el general (r) Freddy Padilla de León (President’s Office)
- Santos defendió al general Padilla frente a acusaciones de falsos positivos (El Espectador)
- La masacre que persigue al ex general Freddy Padilla (Verdad Abierta)