by EFE News Service.
BOGOTA – An army major and four former soldiers have been charged with murdering three farm laborers in 2002 and presenting them as rebels killed in combat, the Colombian Attorney General’s Office said Monday.
Investigators have so far uncovered more than 2,000 instances of such killings by Colombian security forces.
What is known here as the “false positives” scandal has been blamed on a system that offered soldiers and officers the hope of promotions or extra leave time for boosting body counts in the conflict with leftist guerrillas.
The incident that resulted in the current case, the AG’s office said in a communique, occurred on Dec. 11, 2002, in a rural part of the municipality of Campamento, in the northwestern province of Antioquia.
On that day, troops under the command of then-Lt. Juan Carlos del Rio Crespo “removed from the cane field where they were going about their daily tasks laborers Alejandro Agudelo Agudelo, Angel Ramiro Agudelo and Gonzalo Agudelo Perez.”
The three workers were kinsmen.
The soldiers later reported “the deaths of those people as casualties in combat with members of the 26th Front of the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia),” the statement said.
A subsequent investigation established that the laborers “were executed when they were totally defenseless” and that the troops planted guns next to their bodies.
Three of the four soldiers involved in the case and Maj. Del Rio Crespo are under arrest and are being held in military garrisons.