Among those responsible who admitted the crime is the retired Major General of the Colombian Army, Henry William Torres Escalante.
Retired Major General of the Colombian Army Henry William Torres Escalante and 17 other ex-soldiers, acknowledged their responsibility in the murder of 296 people through ‘false positives’, crimes in which State forces falsely presented defenseless people as guerrillas or criminals who were killed in combat.
The Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) reported this Thursday that those responsible had been charged on July 14th and called to acknowledge the murder of 296 people, between 2005 and 2008, through 212 events that occurred in the departments of Casanare, Boyacá, Meta and Arauca, during the government of Álvaro Uribe.
In total, adds the JEP, 22 top military officials and three non-determining participants were accused who were part of the Gaula Casanare, the Infantry Battalion No. 44 ‘Ramón Nonato Pérez’ (Birno) and the Counterguerrilla battalions 23, 29 and 65, the DAS, in addition to two civilians. In these accusations, they took into account the testimonies of Dairo Antonio Úsuga, alias ‘Otoniel’, former leader of the Clan del Golfo, who was recently extradited to the United States.
The JEP detailed that Torres Escalante was commander of the XVI Brigade of the Army, in Casanare, between December 2005 and June 2007, and recognized “the cases of false positives of which he was accused and accepted the charges of indirect perpetrator of crimes against humanity, murder and forced disappearance of people”.
Lieutenant Colonel (r) Henry Hernán Acosta Pardo, commander of the Infantry Battalion No. 44 Ramón Nonato Pérez, between December 2006 and June 2008, also recognized his maximum responsibility as direct perpetrators; and Major (r) Gustavo Enrique Soto Bracamonte, commander of the Gaula Casanare between June 2006 and October 2007.
In addition, as co-perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity, Colonel (r) Wilson Camargo Tamayo admitted the facts; Lieutenant Colonel (r) Marcolino Puerto Jiménez; the army majors (r) Jorge Eduwin Gordillo Benítez and (r) Erwin Eduardo Duarte Rojas; captains (r) Jaime Alberto Rivera Mahecha and César Augusto Cómbita Eslava; and Lieutenants (r) Marco Fabián García Céspedes and Zamir Humberto Casallas Valderrama.
The first sergeants (r) Wilfrido Domínguez Márquez and Gildardo Antonio Jiménez Castrillón did the same; Sergeant Second Active Faiber Alberto Amaya Ruiz; Second Sergeant (r) Wilson Salvador Burgos Jiménez; First Corporal (r) Gélver Pérez García; second corporal (r) Leandro Eliécer Moná Cano; and the civilian Miguel Fernando Ramírez.
Deadline for recognition
The JEP reported that the others who appear charged in this case, including Orlando Rivas Tovar, retired detective from the now-defunct DAS, identified as “co-author” with “essential contributions,” and five other alleged perpetrators, have until November 8 2022 to acknowledge or reject the facts.
The agency recalls that the accused can also provide arguments or additional evidence to clarify the facts.
For their part, the accredited victims and the Public Ministry have the same time to issue statements on these cases.
Once this process is completed, the JEP will set the date for the public hearing to recognize those responsible, such as those that have already been carried out for the Norte de Santander and Costa Caribe sub-cases.