HOME About Blog Contact Hotel Links Donations Registration
NEWS & COMMENTARY 2008 SPEAKERS 2007 2006 2005

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Colombia arrests soldiers for killing police

BOGOTA, Colombia, June 1 (Reuters) - Colombian authorities arrested eight soldiers on Thursday for murdering 10 anti-narcotics police last month, an incident the government had first described a "friendly fire" accident.

Investigators say there was evidence that the soldiers charged over the May 22 massacre were in the pay of right-wing paramilitary militias out to protect their cocaine smuggling operations.

"This was a crime. It was not an accident," a visibly angry Attorney General Mario Iguaran told a news conference about the incident, which took place in a rural part of Valle province in western Colombia.

Formal charges will be brought within two months, he said.

The suspects are accused of gunning down their victims at short range despite the police having shouted, "Don't shoot. We are police. We have children," investigators told reporters.

"The police were fully uniformed and identifiable. The incident happened in daylight and in an area that had a clear line of sight," said German Espejo, analyst at Bogota thinktank Seguridad & Democracia.

"This raises a lot of questions about whether these soldiers were paid by drug dealers to kill this group of police," he added. "There is plenty of evidence that points to it being premeditated."

The government is offering a $400,000 reward to anyone not in the military who can shed light on the incident, in which a total of 28 soldiers were involved.

"This case raises extremely serious questions," said Maria McFarland, Colombia researcher for New York-based Human Rights Watch.

Uribe, a Washington ally whose government has received billions of dollars in U.S. anti-drug and military aid, is popular for reducing urban crime as part of his crackdown on leftist rebels. He was elected to a second four-year term on Sunday with 62 percent of the vote.

Thousands are killed and tens of thousands are displaced every year in Colombia's four-decade-old guerrilla war, in which rebels and paramilitaries battle for control of the Andean country's cocaine trade.
Web IntelligenceSummit.org
Webmasters: Intelligence, Homeland Security & Counter-Terrorism WebRing
Copyright © IHEC 2008. All rights reserved.       E-mail info@IntelligenceSummit.org