15 Colombian Soldiers Convicted of Homicide

A court has sentenced 15 Colombian soldiers to as much as 30 years in prison for the slaying of two brothers falsely identified as guerrillas, the Attorney General's Office announced Sunday.

The sentences were handed down for the murder of brothers Arley Vallejo Cardona and Yon Garcia Cardona in May 2006 in Medellin,
Colombia's second-largest city, the department said in a statement.
Their ages were not released.

The brothers, who worked as food vendors in a Medellin
neighborhood, disappeared on their way back from a delivery,
authorities said at the time. The next day their bodies were found
in a morgue identified as guerrillas killed in combat with
soldiers.

The statement from the Attorney General's Office did not reveal
details of the judge's ruling, including on what evidence he based
the soldiers' convictions.

Judicial officials are investigating the death of 1,600 people
believed to have been killed by soldiers who later falsely reported
them as guerrillas, in many cases to boost their unit's results in
the government's battle against the rebels.

Capt. Robinson Jhon Edgar Lozano Garnica and Sgt. Sergio
Ezequiel Rojas Ochoa were found responsible for the brothers'
slaying and convicted to 30 years each.

The judge imposed the same sentence on three other officials and
five rank-and-file soldiers who were identified as being involved
in planning the killing.

Five rank-and-file soldiers were sentenced to four years each
for helping to cover up the crime.

A judge in Medellin convicted and sentenced the soldiers on
Friday, the agency said.


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