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  • Army colonel Alvaro Amortegui, Colombia, Feb. 19, 2020.

    Army colonel Alvaro Amortegui, Colombia, Feb. 19, 2020. | Photo: Twitter/ @palmer1505

Published 20 February 2020
Opinion

The order was to kill 17 civilians and make them appear as if they were killed-in-action rebels.

Colombian Colonel Alvaro Amortegui said that General Mario Montoya ordered him to kill 17 civilians captured in an operation and make them appear as if they were guerrilla fighters killed in combat.

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"In 2001... I captured 17 guys inside a house. [Montoya] called me on my cell phone and told me, 'I've already sent you the bracelets.' Then I replied, 'don't send me the bracelets... I captured these men alive and they stay alive'," said Colonel Amortegui during an interview with Caracol Radio in which he also reported the theft of ammunition, uniforms and other Army material.

This senior officer mentioned that all this happened when he returned from Sinai, a peninsula in Egypt where the Colombian troops are part of the peacekeeping mission of the Multinational Force & Observers (MFO).

Given the implications of his claims, the Caracol Radio journalists asked Colonel Amortegui to better explain what happened with General Montoya, who was commander of the Colombian Army between 2006 and 2008, during the Presidency of Alvaro Uribe, a far-right politician who has been investigated by the Supreme Court.

"Colombia.-Colonel Alvaro Amortegui said that while he was under the command of Gen. Mario Montoya in 2001, he suggested that he put 17 detainees under" casualties "in combat with FARC guerrillas. After he refused to To do so, Montoya snapped at him: "You are a coward. You disgust me." The meme's photo includes former President Alvaro Uribe (L) and Gen. Mario Montoya (R).
 
 

In his response, Amortegui indicated that General Montoya was referring to the bracelets used by the militants of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

"He sent me FARC bracelets. Because [the 17 captured] were not FARC [fighters]," the colonel said.

The journalists insisted that Amortegui provide more details about what the General was asking for, to which he replied that Montoya "was asking me to kill them. What else do you want?."

Eight days ago, Retired General Montoya declared for the first time before the Special Justice for Peace (JEP), although his appearance was described by the victims of state terrorism as "a mockery."

"It was a mockery before the transitional justice mechanism, which has the task of investigating the most serious crimes committed amidst the armed conflict," said lawyer Jose Alvear Restrepo who represents the victims of state crimes.

Between 1988 and 2014, the "false positives" was a practice whereby the military cheated poor young people, even those with disabilities, with promises of employment and then took them to distant places to execute them.

The bodies of these civilian victims used to be later presented to the authorities as if they had been killed-in-combat guerrilla fighters, which allowed the military to obtain benefits from their superiors.

So far, the Colombian Prosecutor's Office has investigated about 5,000 cases of extrajudicial killings. At least 1,500 officials and troops were involved in these illegal practices.​​​​​​​

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