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Colombia army general promoted amid human rights concerns

In this Dec. 17, 2018 file photo, Army Commander Gen. Nicacio Martinez Espinel, right, salutes during a swearing-in ceremony for the new military and police commanders, in Bogota, Colombia. New evidence has emerged linking Martinez Espinel to the alleged cover up of civilian killings more than a decade ago. The documents, provided to The Associated Press by a person familiar with an ongoing investigation into the extrajudicial killings, come as Martinez Espinel faces mounting pressure to resign over orders he gave troops this year, 2019, to step up attacks in what some fear could pave the way for a return of serious human rights violations.

FERNANDO VERGARA/AP

By ASSOCIATED PRESS Published: June 5, 2019

BOGOTA, Colombia — The head of Colombia's army has been promoted amid criticism that an order he issued could spark a return to serious human rights violations.

The nation's Senate voted Wednesday to make Gen. Nicacio Martínez a four-star general.

The move comes as human rights groups clamor for Martínez to step down after revelations he ordered troops to step up attacks on leftist guerrillas and criminals.

The order stirred fears of a return to the "false positives" scandal during the height of the nation's conflict with guerrillas. Troops are accused of killing innocent civilians and disguising them as guerrillas in exchange for extra pay.

Documents from Colombia's prosecutor's office show Martinez signed off on questionable payments to informants during that time. In one case, a 13-year-old girl was killed.

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