Colombia: new charges in “false positives” scandal

Colombian authorities brought charges against a Maj. Juan Carlos Del Río Crespo and four other troops in the December 2002 slaying of three members of the Agudelo family in Campamento village, Antioquia state. Crespo is accused falsely presenting their bodies as those of FARC guerilla fighters who were killed in combat—a widespread practice in the Colombian military known as “false positives.”

The three members of the Agudelo family were seized from a sugarcane field where they were working and killed under orders from Maj. Del Río, investigators said. Del Río and three soldiers are currently in custody, while authorities are still searching for the fourth soldier.

Colombian authorities are investigating the extrajudicial killings of 2,650 civilians, and have about 1,100 soldiers under investigation. It is claimed that the army encouraged the “false positives” tactic by offering troops and officers promotions or extra leave time for higher body counts. Since 2008, when the scandal first broke, 272 soldiers have been convicted and 58 have been absolved in such cases. (Latin America News Dispatch, Jan. 4; Minuto 30, Colombia, Jan. 3)

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