A group of Colombian servicemen charged with the so-called false positives during the fight against guerrillas before the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) court Friday acknowledged their involvement in the murder of 247 people.
I present my feelings of forgiveness for the great pain caused by the execrable acts committed, said General Paulino Coronado Gámez, former commander of the Army's 30th brigade. Coronado also admitted that civilians presented themselves as combatants, which generated profound desolation among their loved ones, to whom I offer my absolute willingness to contribute to clarifying the truth, as a means of reparation.
The alleged crimes were committed in Catatumbo (northwest), where 120 people were killed, and in a wide area of the Caribbean Coast (north), where another 127 civilians lost their lives. The events in Catatumbo took place between 2007 and 2008, and on the Caribbean Coast between 2002 and 2005.
In the coming months, the perpetrators are to meet with relatives of the deceased and a restorative path will be generated, explained the JEP.
The false positives were extrajudicial killings committed by the military during the first decade of the 21st century. Young people from poor areas were lured to remote areas with a job offers. Once there, they were shot dead and dressed in guerrilla gear to make them look as if they had been gunned down in combat. The method was used repeatedly under former President Alvaro Uribe Vélez (2002-2010), who has admitted before the Truth Commission that his government did demand results from the military, but never asked them to commit crimes.
There is not a soldier or a policeman who can say that I gave him a bad example of word or deed, said Uribe.
Friday's confesion before the JEP is a historic event. It is hoped that former FARC guerrillas will too confess their own crimes, to be judged under the same rationale or face the ordinary justice system which entails harsher penalties.
The JEP also reported that two Army officers involved in the false positives of Catatumbo and the Caribbean Coast have denied their responsibility, due to which their cases have been forwarded to a different jurisdiction, where the defendants face up to 20 years in prison.