Victims of Colombia’s ‘False Positive’ scandal await justice

World Today

Six years after one of Colombia’s darkest scandals arose, justice seems impossible for the victims’ families. The “false positive” scandal is used to refer to the extrajudicial killings of civilians by members of the armed forces who dressed their victims as guerrillas in order to present them as combat kills. The mothers of the famous cases in Bogota’s suburb, called Soacha, anxiously await justice for their lost sons.

CCTV America corespondent Michelle Begue had the report from Bogota, Colombia. 

Victims of Colombia's 'False Positive' scandal await justice

Six years after one of Colombia's darkest scandals arose, justice seems impossible for the victims' families. The "false positive" scandal is used to refer to the extrajudicial killings of civilians by members of the armed forces who dressed their victims as guerrillas in order to present them as combat kills. The mothers of the famous cases in Bogota's suburb, called Soacha, anxiously await justice for their lost sons. CCTV Corespondent Michelle Begue had the report from Bogota, Colombia.

Carmenza Gomez never knew that on Aug. 23, 2008 she was seeing her son, Victor Fernando Gomez, for the last time. Gomez said he was leaving to find work in another region. Two days later he was found dead in a morgue, declared an enemy combatant of Colombia’s 50-year-old armed conflict.

“The highest sentence for those people, 60 years if that is what the Colombian justice allows, because they deserve it for taking the lives of our youth who were just beginning to live,” said Gomez’ mother.

Victor Fernando Gomez is one of the possibly thousands of civilians killed by Colombia’s military between 200 and 2008. There are more than 3,000 cases investigated by civilian prosecutors.

According to the lawyers of the victims, the cases are marked by alarming similarities.

“It starts with the recruitment of these young men, an illegal recruitment with false promises of work. They are transported to another municipality and they are called in that region and reported as unidentified killed in combat,” said lawyer Carolina Daza Rincon of el Colectivo de Abogados Jose Alvear Restrepo.

Those allegedly responsible for Gomez’s death are being prosecuted in a civilian court. A total of 21 military personnel are accused of being responsible for the disappearance of five men, including Gomez.

Some have said these killings arose because of the pressure Colombian soldiers felt to show “positive” results. Even so, defense lawyers for the military officers deny this.

“What is happening is that people are satanizing this topic. That is problem. Because the truth is, in the structure of the military there has to be an insistence from officials and that is why they are there. To bring order in that context [of war],” said Rafael Sandoval, Lawyer of Military Officers.

On Nov. 14, the mothers of the five civilians killed heard the judge schedule the defenses’ closing arguments for March and April of 2015, citing a full agenda for the rest of the year.

Closure seems impossible for Carmenza Gomez as the trial drags on.

“It is unfair that those military officials who murdered our children are asking for more time so that they can spend another holiday outside of prison,” said Gomez. “We have to spend another holiday without our sons. That is not just.”

Human Rights Watch has denounced the Colombian legislation that may transfer the cases of military personnel accused of these extrajudicial killings to the military justice system. The organization said the move may impede justice for these cases.