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Colombian president tells military to probe alleged abuses quickly

  • Story Highlights
  • Colombia's president: Human rights complaints should spark accelerated probes
  • President's comments come weeks after he fired 27 army officers
  • Officers accused of negligence or direct involvement in the slayings of 11 civilians
  • No one charged in slayings, which still are being investigated
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BOGOTA, Colombia (CNN) -- Colombian President Alvaro Uribe told military and police officials Monday to speed up any investigations into alleged human rights abuses -- a directive that follows allegations the military engineered executions of innocent civilians.

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe's comments follow accusations the military was linked to civilians' deaths.

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe's comments follow accusations the military was linked to civilians' deaths.

Speaking on a teleconference with the minister of defense and top officials in the military and police, Uribe said they should "accelerate administrative investigations" when they receive complaints alleging human rights abuses by security forces, a release on the Colombian government's Web site said.

Uribe's comments came three weeks after the chief of Colombia's army, Gen. Mario Montoya, resigned. Montoya's resignation came less than a week after Uribe fired 27 army officers, including three generals, accused of negligence or direct involvement in the slayings of 11 young men from a poor Bogota suburb.

Neither Montoya nor any of the dismissed officers have been charged. Criminal investigations are ongoing.

The bodies of the 11 men were found in a mass grave in northeast Norte de Santander province in September. The men's families had reported them missing, some as long ago as January.

The army initially said the men were guerrillas killed in combat.

However, officials said a subsequent investigation showed they were civilians who had been lured away from Bogota by the false promise of jobs by undercover military officials or criminals working in league with the military.

Colombia's attorney general's office said it is investigating almost 800 cases of extrajudicial killings allegedly committed by the security forces between January 2003 and September 2007, during the Uribe administration.

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