Colom­bian gen­er­als linked to killing of civil­ians: HRW

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

Hu­man Rights Watch ac­cused some of Colom­bia’s top gen­er­als Wed­nes­day of links to the “gen­er­al­ized and sys­tem­atic” ex­e­cu­tion of civil­ians, who were then pre­sented as felled FARC guer­ril­las.

The Colom­bian mil­i­tary has been un­der fire for years over the so-called “false pos­i­tives” scan­dal, in which army units are ac­cused of killing hun­dreds of civil­ians, mostly poor young men, from 2002 to 2008 and re­port­ing them as rebels or drug traf­fick­ers killed in com­bat.

In a 95-page re­port, the New York-based rights group found “abun­dant ev­i­dence in­di­cat­ing that nu­mer­ous se­nior army of­fi­cers bear re­spon­si­bil­ity” in the wide­spread ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings, which in­flated the army’s fig­ures on the num­ber of in­sur­gents killed in com­bat and earned pro­mo­tions and dec­o­ra­tions for those who took credit.

The group named the top com­man­der of the armed forces, Gen­eral Juan Pablo Ro­driguez, and the top com­man­der of the Army, Gen­eral Jaime Lasprilla, as among those who “knew or should have known of the crimes.”

The two men com­manded brigades at the time that reg­is­tered at least 76 sus­pected ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings, said the re­port, which is based on sources in­clud­ing pros­e­cu­tion files, wit­ness in­ter­views and tes­ti­mony from vic­tims’ fam­i­lies.

“There is mount­ing ev­i­dence that top mil­i­tary of­fi­cers were re­spon­si­ble for these atro­cious acts,” the rights group’s ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor for the Amer­i­cas, Jose Miguel Vi­vanco, told a press con­fer­ence in Bo­gota.

But the com­mand­ing of­fi­cers in­volved “have man­aged to elude jus­tice and have even risen to the high­est lev­els of mil­i­tary com­mand,” he added.

The group said Colom­bian pros­e­cu­tors are in­ves­ti­gat­ing at least 3,000 “false pos­i­tives.”

But while hun­dreds of rank-and­file sol­diers have been con­victed of the killings, few colonels and no gen­er­als have been.

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