Photo: Former Battalion Commander,14 of His Men to be Tried for Murder in Colombia
A former battalion commander and 14 of his men will be tried for murder in the deaths of six civilians falsely reported as rebels killed in combat, the Colombian Attorney General’s Office said Thursday.
Lt. Col. Isnardo Polania Delgadillo, now retired, led a motorized infantry battalion that was operating in the eastern border province of Vichada in late 2006.
The unit reported having killed six guerrillas during a Dec. 22, 2006, engagement in the remote jungle village of Cumaribo, but it subsequently emerged that the fatalities were civilians.
Such killings are known in Colombia as “false positives.”
The phenomenon came to light in October 2008 with the discovery in northeastern Colombia of the bodies of a score of young men from a poor Bogota suburb who had been buried in mass graves as if they were insurgents killed in battle.
With Colombian politicians and the military brass demanding results in the war against leftist guerrillas, inflating body counts became a way for troops to earn promotions, bonuses and extra leave.
The AG’s office has investigated more than 2,000 instances of “false positives” and probes are ongoing.