Colombia: Court will sanction soldiers for false positives

BOGOTÁ (HPD) — The Colombian Peace Court is approaching the imposition of the first sanctions after concluding that a group of 10 soldiers and a civilian accepted their responsibility in the cases known as “false positives”, in which some members of the army killed civilians and passed them off as guerrillas killed in combat.

The president of the Peace Court, Eduardo Cifuentes, assured the press on Friday that the decision “marks a milestone” in Colombian justice and that from now on the Court’s judicial jurisdiction is activated in this case of “false positives” to that the first judgment be handed down in the coming months.

The Peace Court or Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) was created after the peace agreement signed in 2016 by the State and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas after five decades of confrontations. Thousands of former guerrillas, soldiers and civilians who were involved in the conflict appear before the JEP.

In Friday’s decision, the Court concluded that the 10 soldiers and a civilian may receive their own sanctions, that is, they do not imply going to jail but restrictions on freedoms and rights of residence and movement that will be monitored and verified by the JEP and the UN Verification Mission in Colombia.

These are sanctions that can last up to eight years and have a restorative component, that is, they will try to repair the victims and society with projects and actions that dignify the memory of their relatives.

For the first time, the JEP announced the sanction proposals that were built between the perpetrators and the victims, which include a documentary, a memorial park for the 6,402 victims of the “false positives” and an exhibition at the National Museum of Memory. of Colombia -currently under construction- that tells how the crimes happened.

The accused soldiers proposed to go to the training schools for soldiers so that they know why the “false positives” happened in order to prevent history from repeating itself. They will also give an economic contribution so that the victims cover the debts they have in the private cemeteries where the remains of their children rest.

The testimonies of the military helped document the crimes in the Catatumbo area, bordering Venezuela. In hearings before the victims, they revealed bloody details of their illegal operations.

Néstor Guillermo Gutiérrez, who was the army’s first corporal, confessed that he had a collaborator in a town with whom he drew up a “black list” of the victims who were chosen to be killed and then seek rewards.

“We all knew what we were doing, when a weapon arrived, when they had located the subject that we were going to kill (kill), because we all knew that behind that death came a permit,” he told the Court.

The way in which they obtained the victims was also revealed. Rafael Urbano Muñoz, a former second sergeant, confessed that for several days he convinced one of his victims to accompany him with tricks, offering him a well-paid job in the army, and then handing him over to be assassinated.

The testimony of Gabriel de Jesús Rincón, a former lieutenant colonel, served the Court to corroborate how the combats were simulated: the weapons that were placed on the corpses of the victims were fired on the bulletproof vests of members of the army so that they could report that it was an attack on the guerrillas and then dressed the victims as guerrillas. Sometimes the victims had boots on backwards or that were not their shoe size.

The Peace Court calculates that the number of victims of “false positives” amounts to 6,402, the majority murdered between 2002 and 2008.

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