- BBC World News
The Colombian military forces killed at least 6,402 civilians between 2002 and 2008 and presented them as “casualties in combat,” the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) reported on Thursday.
The number of “false positives”, as they are known in Colombia, is higher than what had been recognized in the past and shows that that period, in which he governed Alvaro Uribe, who rejects the accusations, “78% of the total historical victimization was recorded.”
“66% of the national total of victims was concentrated in 10 departments, including all the prioritized territories during that period,” said the JEP.
The court classified what happened as a “macrocriminal phenomenon“.
About 1,500 military personnel were allegedly involved in the practice of “false positives”, with which the armed forces They tried to present good results to their superiors in the fight against guerrillas and criminal gangs.
In addition, they obtained prizes, permits and benefits.
The JEP investigation is called Case 3, opened after complaints were filed with the Attorney General’s Office, which established that the most critical stage occurred between 2006 and 2008.
The Prosecutor’s Office has investigated nearly 5,000 cases of “false positives” that were committed between 1988 and 2014 and for which some soldiers or non-commissioned officers have been convicted. Find out how much influence and decision the higher ups had.
“Sources also agree that the macrocriminal phenomenon fell dramatically in 2009, from 792 victims in 2008 to 122 cases reported in 2009, “says the JEP through the Truth and Responsibility Acknowledgment Chamber.
Both the military commanders and former President Uribe have rejected the accusations.
The ex-president described the JEP report as “biased” published this Thursday, then, he said, aims to “discredit me.”
“There is not a single military man who can say that he received from me a bad example or an undue insinuation, and I believe I am one of the Colombians who, as Governor and President, has spoken the most with members of the Armed Forces,” Uribe said when listing a series of actions you took in the past on this issue.
The open wound
One of the deepest wounds that Colombia has dragged in recent years are the so-called “false positives.”
In 2008 the scandal broke out that it caused several military laureates to be sent to court.
At that time, Colombia had been involved in a war against the guerrillas for five decades. Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), with which he only signed peace in September 2016, under the government of Juan Manuel Santos.
The scandal was triggered by complaints from relatives of the victims, who revealed that the military they had killed civilians to present them as guerrillas fallen in combat.
An investigation of Congress had calculated that more than 2,000 people they were victims of the case.
At that time, a model of incentives for soldiers was promoted for casualties obtained from insurgents, which was considered the germ of the executions of civilians.
The JEP was created by the peace agreement to investigate crimes committed during the armed conflict with the FARC. Its objective is to try ex-guerrillas, soldiers, state agents and civilians involved.
Analysis by Daniel Pardo, BBC Mundo correspondent in Colombia
The false positives were one of the most cruel manifestations of the war in Colombia.
And although many Colombians were already aware of it, the JEP report has generated surprise because it reveals two unprecedented things.
First, the magnitude of the quota scheme in the army: the preliminary investigation numbers spoke of a maximum of 3,000 victims of false positives.
That the figure rises to 6,402 suggests that false positives were a less isolated practice than they said the designated institutions.
But, in addition, the report points out that the previous work of the Prosecutor’s Office was deficient, which some have interpreted as an attempt at cover-up.
The JEP is not exactly a controversial entity. Former President Álvaro Uribe has advocated for its dissolution on the grounds that it does not guarantee the punishment of the perpetrators of the conflict.
However, the JEP is a State entity: a high court with constitutional foundation that is difficult to thwart.
Critics of the former president assure that his opposition to the JEP has to do with an alleged intention to bury crimes that incriminate him.
According to the report, 78% of the victims of false positives died during his rule.
Uribe reacted promptly to the revelations, reiterating his criticism of the JEP as “biased.” Although it is unlikely that the JEP report will change the balance of power and the support of the former president, a new debate is expected on the existence and future of the JEP.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.