Retired Army Colonel Linked to Narco-Paramilitaries

News from Colombia | on: Thursday, 9 June 2011

According to the testimony of John Quirama, a professional soldier who served under Colonel Oscar Orlando Gomez, the now-retired Colonel was linked to notorious paramilitary leader ‘Cuchillo’, who was accused of some 3,000 killings.

The Colonel, who is one of those being investigated for the ‘false positives’ scandal, is accused of having been responsible for the killings of two civilians who were then dressed up as guerrillas and presented as guerrillas killed in combat.

John Quirama claims that while the Efrain Rojas Acevedo battalion was stationed in Vichada in 2007, Colonel Gomez protected ‘Cuchillo’ in return for payment and help in setting up false positives. This was linked to the payment of rewards to troops who reported guerrilla fatalities in combat.

Moreover, the witness accuses the Colonel of being involved in drug trafficking, having set up drugs labs with the help of the paramilitary leader.

The soldier alleges that the Colonel was paid $700 million Colombian pesos [around £240,000 pounds] in protection money by ‘Cuchillo’. The officers in the unit received double pay whenever they reported killed guerrillas, a practice denied by the Uribe government (when Juan Manuel Santos was Defence Minister).

A video of the soldier being interviewed can be viewed in Spanish here.

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