|New Evidence in February 2005 Massacre Investigation|
A former member of the paramilitaries confessed to assisting the Army’s 17th Brigade in murdering Alejandro Perez, one of the eight people killed in the February 2005 massacre in the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó. On April 25, Adriano José Cano, alias Melaza, formerly with the Banana Paramilitary Bloc, told investigators that the Army gave him a weapon and a uniform to participate in operations, and that in one of them he helped in the killing of Alejandro Perez.
Cano gave testimony as part of the demobilization process that requires paramilitary members to confess crimes they committed in order to receive a sentence reduction. The prosecutor and Inspector General investigators working on the massacre’s criminal and disciplinary investigations were expected to follow up with more questions.
Cano’s testimony not only gives further evidence of Army’s responsibility in the massacre, a charge that the Peace Community has made since immediately after it happened. It also underscores the Army’s illegal practice of using non-army personnel (including active and demobilized illegal combatants) in carrying out military operations. While Colombian law allows using these people as informants, acts such as carrying weapons, wearing a uniform and engaging in combat itself are banned.
Source: El Tiempo, 26 April 2007.
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