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LATIN AMERICA | 17-08-2021 13:36

Ex-Colombia president Uribe denies blame for killings

Colombia's military carried out at least 6,400 extrajudicial killings between 2002 and 2008, during Uribe's presidency, a special court investigating nation's decades-long armed conflict concluded in June.

Former Colombian president Álvaro Uribe denied responsibility for the murder of thousands of civilians by the military during his government's crackdown on guerrillas in testimony before a special commission Monday.

The military carried out at least 6,400 extrajudicial killings between 2002 and 2008, during Uribe's presidency, a special court investigating Colombia's decades-long armed conflict found in June.

The court, known by its initials JEP, and a Truth Commission were set up under the 2016 peace deal that ended a decades-long conflict between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerillas.

In testimony delivered from his home Uribe told Truth Commission members that he should not be held responsible for the actions of military that he never ordered.

"The guilt never belongs to the one who demands transparent results (but) belongs to the hapless criminal who commits crimes to fake results," Uribe said in remarks broadcast on social media. "Some hapless people believed that committing crimes was producing results."

The JEP and the Truth Commission are looking into the worst abuses committed by leftist guerrillas, right-wing paramilitaries and soldiers during the conflict. 

Those who confess responsibility and compensate the victims can avoid prison time, but those who don't face up to 20 years in jail.

Under the peace deal, Uribe cannot be prosecuted by the court. His statements Monday were voluntary.

Uribe's successor, President Juan Manuel Santos, told the court in June that the crimes were committed due to government pressure to deliver results in the fight against the guerrillas.

Some military members have already admitted to killing civilians in return for days off, travel and other benefits.

But Uribe claimed that military personnel "are being forced to recognise crimes that weren't committed to protect their freedom."

Uribe opposed the peace process, which was initially rejected in a referendum before being renegotiated and ratified by Congress.

– TIMES/AFP

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