Nine bodies have been found in a Colombian town that are believed to be victims of the ‘false positives’ scandal where soldiers murdered poor and disabled citizens and presented them as guerrilla kills during the armed conflict.
During the conflict between the Colombian military and guerrilla fighters of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN) that started in 1964, poor and mentally-impaired civilians were lured to remote regions with offers of work.
The ‘false positives’ victims were then murdered and presented to the authorities by military officers as confirmed guerrilla kills to inflate numbers and receive promotions and perks.
As of June 2012, over 3,350 cases have been investigated and verdicts had been reached in 170 cases. A 2018 study claimed there was a total of 10,000 ‘false positive’ victims between 2002 and 2010.
The Colombian Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) said on Monday that nine suspected victims were found in the Las Mercedes cemetery, located in town of Dabeiba in the department of Antioquia.
In the statement, the JEP said that 80 similar findings have been made in the town since 2019.
The bodies, believed to be victims presented as ‘combat casualties’, were exhumed and are undergoing analysis.
JEP officials and a team of experts including anthropologists, dentists, surveyors, and other researchers found the remains between 6th and 13th March.
The purpose of the investigation is to disprove claims by 18 servicemen of different ranks about the number of deaths presented as killed guerrillas.
The JEP statement added: “It is about the concerned parties delivering truth that clarifies the humiliation Colombians experienced during the armed conflict.”
After undergoing forensic analysis, the bodies will be identified and given to relatives “in a dignified manner”.
The nine exhumed bodies were found in bags buried in graves and were wearing military-style clothing with gunshot wounds. They were also tied and gagged.
Researchers hope to reconstruct the context of the violence in Dabeiba and clarify the victims’ circumstances during the armed conflict.
The statement said the reconstruction will “get to the bottom of what happened in Dabeiba, to better understand the dynamics of the conflict, and the patterns of crime and victimisation.”
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