Colombia’s Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) convicted 22 former members of the country’s armed forces, one state official and two civilians of war crimes and crimes against humanity over the killing of 303 civilians between 2005 and 2008, news website People’s Dispatch reported on Wednesday.
The perpetrators then framed their victims as guerrilla fighters killed in combat to collect a reward, JEP found. They had formed a group within the military to access promotions, cash prizes, vacations and other perks, the court said.
The Colombian military has carried out more than 6,400 extrajudicial killings, the JEP said in February 2021. The current case is the first time a court was able to charge the defendants with war crimes and crimes against humanity as it was able to establish that one of the victims was persecuted for his diverse sexual orientation, and that minors were made to participate in the hostilities.
The majority of the 303 victims were young men between the ages of 18 and 25. Among the deceased there were nine women, one of whom was pregnant.
These killings are known as the Scandal of the False Positives in Colombia, that occurred during the country’s conflict with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and National Liberation Army (ELN).
FARC and the Colombian government signed a peace agreement in 2016.