Colombian authorities said Monday that they have accused an army major and four other soldiers of killing three civilians and then falsely presenting their bodies as those of guerrillas slain in combat.
Maj. Juan Carlos Del Rio Crespo and four other troops were charged in the 2002 killings of three members of the Agudelo family in Antioquia state, about 180 miles (290 kilometers) northwest of the capital, Bogota, the attorney general’s office said in a statement.
Investigators determined the three were defenseless when they were slain, but that the soldiers later said the deaths happened during combat against the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, the attorney general’s office said.
It said troops under Del Rio’s command seized the three men from a sugarcane field where they were working. Their bodies were found with two shotguns.
Del Rio and three soldiers have been jailed, while one other soldier is wanted in the killings.
In November, Colombian authorities said they were investigating the extrajudicial killings of 2,650 civilians, and that about 1,100 soldiers were under investigation.
At least 272 soldiers have been convicted and 58 have been absolved in a series of similar cases since 2008, when scandal erupted in Colombia over mounting accusations that soldiers were regularly killing civilians. (Associated Press)