Colombia: Confessions of an army major who rewarded civilian killings

Retired Colombian Major Gustavo Soto, who was sentenced to 32 years on charges of homicide and kidnapping over one of the darkest chapters in Colombia’s history – that of “false positives” – confesses in an exclusive interview with AFP how he rewarded his troops for killing civilians in remote areas.

Soto also explains how they presented the killed civilians as guerrillas killed in combat in order to inflate results: “I’m not going to say that I was the one who started this ... the soldiers already knew how to present the deaths, how to do it.”

“When we went on an operation and since it was an anti-extortion and anti-kidnapping unit, if the person was caught in a raid, the order was to kill him, to present him as a death in combat,” he added.

“Soldiers who delivered deaths got five days’ leave. The previous commander would give them three days, but since I was new, I didn’t know anything about it, so I said, ‘Well, that’s fine with me, I’ll give you five’,” he said about the rewards.

Soto said that during his time as commander, he reported 83 deaths, only “about four or five” were legal operations. “The rest were illegitimate murders.”

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 10:02 - GMT 07:02