21 soldiers sentenced in false positives scandal

News from Colombia | on: Wednesday, 12 April 2017

21 Colombian soldiers have been sentenced to between 37 and 52 years in prison for the forced disappearance and extrajudicial killing of five young men in 2008. This was part of what is known as the "false positives" scandal, in which the Colombian military systematically lured poor young men away from their homes with job offers, later assassinating them and dressing them up in combat gear to increase their body count in the war against FARC guerrillas. It is estimated that around 4,000 people were killed this way during the Uribe presidency.

The families of the five victims - Víctor Fernando Gómez, Julio Cesar Mesa y Jhonatan Orlando Soto Diego Alberto Tamayo, Jader Andrés Palacio Bustamante - who were all from the town of Soacha, south of the capital Bogotá, have fought for nearly ten years for justice.

However, with the passing of the special peace justice system a debate has opened up over the false positive cases. Only a week prior to the judgement, another judge suspended a hearing into the killing of three young men by the military, stating that the cases must be heard in the special courts as they were part of the armed conflict. This has thrown the false positive cases into a judicial limbo, especially as the special peace justice system is not yet in operation.

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