The Colombian military on Monday was found guilty of another “false positive” murder, and the state must pay $75,000 in damages to the victim’s family.
Six years ago, the military killed Horacio de Jesus Ortiz Duran, accusing him of being a member of the EPL, the country’s third largest guerilla group. Duran was a farmer who lived on a small plot of land in the Caldas department with his mother. He was falsely presented as a dead guerilla combatant, a court in Caldas found.
“Testimonies have permitted us to conclude that the victim, who was assassinated by members of the armed forces, was not a guerilla belonging to the EPL,” the court ruling said. It described him as a respected member of the community and “a hard worker, a good son and without links to unlawful groups.”
According to lawyer Benjamin Herrera, who represented the Duran family, Duran was shot seventeen times. His body was then outfitted in military gear and a weapon was placed in his hands, Herrera said.
“In terms of a penal ruling, nothing has happened yet,” Herrera told the Associated Press in a telephone interview. “Nobody’s been condemned and they haven’t even started an investigation.”
There are currently 1,900 “false positives” cases awaiting investigation in Colombia. Recently, the army’s extrajudicial killing of eleven young men from Soacha, a working class neighborhood in Bogota, caused an outcry in Colombia. To date 38 soldiers facing trial for the Soacha murders have been released because of lapsed trial deadlines, angering the victims’ families.
President Uribe fired 27 members of the military, including three generals, as a result of the Soacha controversy.
Some 1,200 members of the military have been linked to “false positive” cases.
The EPL demobilized in 1991 and formed a political party, but a few hundred dissident members remain active in remote areas of the country.