Extrajudicial killings in Manizales

Darbey Mosquera Castillo, Alex Hernando Ramirez Hurtado and Jose Didier Marin Camacho, were three young unemployed men of scant resources from Pradera (Valle del Cauca), who dreamed of earning some income for their families.

Faced with a need to survive in a socio-economic context dictated by poverty and a lack of educational and work opportunities, they headed for Manizales (Caldas) in the company of an Army soldier who had promised them paid work. On the way, they were detained by members of Counter-Guerrilla Battalion No 57 ‘Martires de Puerres’ of the Army’s 8th Brigade. After the young men got out of the taxi, the soldiers murdered Darbey and Alex, who were later reported to be terrorists and drug traffickers who had been killed in combat, as part of Operation Phoenix which was carried out in the hamlet of Java (in rural area of Manizales).[1]

Jose Didier survived when the gun the solider aimed at his head failed to go off. This meant he was now a crucial and protected witness. According to dhColombia, “being jobless or with only sporadic employment, living a difficult economic situation, being in trouble with the law, they were seen as a problem for society, rather than citizens with rights. So they were the perfect fodder for being turned into combatants and targets of the Army’s counter insurgency actions. And furthermore, nobody was going to miss them”.[2]

In April 2012, seven low-ranking soldiers were found guilty of aggravated murder.[3] “It is an exemplary decision for other cases of extrajudicial killings, also known as ‘false positives’ which are under investigation in the country”, Jorge Molano stated in response to the verdict.[4] The lawyer also asked the Public Prosecutor’s Office to investigate the commander and sub-commander of the 8th Brigade for their alleged role in these young men’s deaths.[5] In 2014, there were hearings to confirm the charges against three more people, Major Josue Linares Hernandez, commander of the implicated Battalion, one officer, and a member of the ‘Oficina de Envigado’ illegal group.[6] Molano also asked for the commander of the Army at that time, Mario Montoya Uribe, to be charged in the same case.[7]


[1] DhColombia: Estudio de caso: Señor Comandante: ¡Sírvase felicitarlos!, October 2011
[2] DhColombia, Militares Colombianos Implicados en Asesinatos Serían Ascendidos, 4th December 2012
[3] Caracol Radio: Condenan a siete militares por caso de falso positivo en Manizales, 29th March 2012
[4] Ibíd.
[5] Interview with Jorge Molano, May 2012
[6] Interview with Jorge Molano, 16th September 2015; La Patria: Aplazaron inicio de juicio por falsos positivos en Manizales, 7th April 2015; The ‘Oficina de Envigado’ is a criminal group with roots in Pablo Escobar’s Medellin Cartel. It carries out criminal activities such as drug smuggling and sales, extortion, kidnapping, murders using a network of assassins and money laundering. InSightCrime: La Oficina de Envigado
[7] Interview with Jorge Molano, 16thSeptember 2015; Las2Orillas: La historia negra del general (r) Mario Montoya, 24th June 2015

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