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Colombian Soldier Demands Spanish Newspaper Remove Story on Civilian Killings

© AP Photo / Fernando VergaraA Colombian Army Special Forces soldier waits to take part in a show of military exercises at the Tolemaida military base
A Colombian Army Special Forces soldier waits to take part in a show of military exercises at the Tolemaida military base - Sputnik International
Colombian media wrote that the Latin American country had entered a new era of repressing freedom of the press as the Army and some politicians seek to suppress media reports on alleged military wrongdoings. A Colombian serviceman recently tried to silence a foreign newspaper.

Colombian serviceman Juan Carlos Galvis demanded that the leading Spanish newspaper El Pais remove a story on extrajudicial killings of civilians in 2006, according to a Saturday publication by Colombia Reports.

According to El Pais, in 2006 three civilians were killed and two women were raped on an indigenous reserve in Colombia. The report alleged the crime was committed by servicemen of the Colombian Army's 10th Brigade, where the new Army Chief General Nicacio de Jesus Martinez Espinel occupied a high-ranking post at the time.

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Three soldiers were imprisoned for the murders, including one Galvis. They were released in 2017 when it was ruled that their guilt had not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt, according to Colombia Reports.

The serviceman argues that the initial conviction was wrongful since bullets taken from the bodies of the victims couldn't be linked to his firearm.

In his complaint against El Pais, Galvis claims the author mentioned his name thus violated his "fundamental right to a good name."

Colombian Reports claims this accusation is untrue.

Galvis is demanding that El Pais author Francesco Manetto "corrects" his coverage, removes the article from the website, and issues a public apology for defamation.

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Speaking to Colombia's W Radio, Manetto defended his article saying he never mentioned the soldier by name and was actually unaware of his existence.

"I became aware of his existence only when he wrote to me. His name appeared neither in print nor online," Manetto said.

According to Colombia Reports, this is not an isolated incident of Colombian officials attempting to silence the press. The website reported that recent publications on human rights abuses also came under fire from the Colombian army and some local politicians. The New York Times's Colombia bureau chief reportedly "felt compelled to leave the country" after a publication saying that Martinez ordered soldiers to double their kill counts.

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