The Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) — the result of Colombia’s peace accords between the government and the extinct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) — has indicted 22 former members of the Army for up to 303 cases of ‘false positives’.
The ‘false positives’ scandal consisted of rewarding members of the Armed Forces in exchange for killing civilians and passing them off as killed guerrillas to make it look like very successful military operations in the framework of the armed conflict.
Thus, the JEP has charged the crimes of war crimes and crimes against humanity to a total of 22 ex-military members, among them the prominent general Henry William Torres, as well as two colonels, three lieutenant colonels, ten officers and six non-commissioned officers, most of them members of the Army’s brigade XVI.
According to the JEP, the events occurred between 2005 and 2008, and the more than 300 victims were executed in a total of 218 events in some municipalities of the departments of Casanare, Meta and Boyacá, according to the Colombian newspaper ‘El Tiempo’.
In addition, this is the first occasion in which the crime of using minors is also charged, since Justice has determined that, in some cases, minors were used as recruiters to participate in the deceptions that culminated in the death of the victims.
Likewise, the Recognition Chamber of the JEP has pointed out that, in Casanare alone, the military used at least 140 million Colombian pesos — about 30,600 euros today — from the public coffers, to finance their criminal actions.
All of this allegedly occurred under the orders of Torres, who is estimated to have commanded some 70 people. Most of the victims were men between 18 and 25 years old, although it is true that among the dead civilians there were women, some of them even pregnant.
As Judge Oscar Parra explained in a press conference, the 22 defendants “carried out organized and large-scale attacks with the intention of murdering defenseless people who were presented as combat casualties”, which he considers “were not isolated acts or committed spontaneously”.
“Among the victims documented in the Casanare sub-case there are nine women and one person with diverse sexual orientation and gender identity or expression who experienced specific forms of violence and cruelty, due to particular situations of vulnerability and social prejudices that made them the target of the crimes,” the JEP has pointed out.