Ten soldiers of the Colombian Army were found guilty Wednesday of killing three civilians, then dressing them in guerrilla clothing and registering them as enemy combatants.
The soldiers — including a lieutenant, a sargent and a corporal — were found guilty of aggravated homicide in the case of three men, which included a father and son.
Lawyer for the victims’ families Leonardo Jamie said in a statement that Marcos Quintero Riviera, his son Marco Quintero Nino, and Nelson Diaz Paez were known in their village of El Playon as night watchmen, and had no guerrilla links.
Jaime confirmed that “two were found shot dead in uniforms, while the third was suffocated”. Evidence presented at the trial included the fact that one body contained multiple bullet wounds, while his supposed uniform had no holes in it.
Ana Pabon, one of the victims’ wives, said, “This punishment must set an example. The death of my husband has been terrible — for my children it’s irreparable.”
The guilty verdict was announced to a public audience in the special criminal court in Bucaramanga, eastern Colombia. The soldiers, who have been in custody since September last year, will be sentenced in January 2012.
The scandal of ‘false positives’ — a term used to describe Colombian soldiers murdering civilians then dressing them up in guerrilla clothing to boost their kill rate — first came to light in 2008. A group of men who had disappeared from the town of Soacha, south of Bogota, were found in a mass grave near the Venezuelan border.
There have been an estimated 3,000 cases of false positves killings by the Colombian armed forces since 2002.