In the latest development of Colombia's so-called “false positives” scandal, an army colonel has admitted his unit murdered 57 civilians, then dressed them in uniforms – claiming they were guerillas who died in combat.
Former navy Colonel Luis Fernando Borja Giraldo, who was leader of the Sucre Joint Task Force, was on Wednesday sentenced to 21 years in prison for the murder of civilians to inflate kill counts of enemy units.
Giraldo's sentence was reduced from 42 years after he pleaded guilty to homicide charges.
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He is the most senior officer to be convicted in Colombia's "false positives" scandal, in which soldiers were rewarded according to the number of guerillas they killed.
News website Colombia Reports said Borja admitted that in November 2007, two farmers were lured to their deaths with promises of work.
Prosecutors say members of the Sucre Joint Task Force may also be liable for at least 50 similar killings.
Eight soldiers were sentenced in early July to 60 years each for the 2006 killings of four farmers in the province of Antioquia.
Giraldo is also understood to have given prosecutors the names of officers and soldiers who participated in the murders.
According to the BBC, most of the "false positives" occurred under the two administrations of President Alvaro Uribe.
As of last year there have been an estimated 3,000 cases of false positive killings in Colombia since 2002, according to Colombia Reports.