Colombian military chief Gen Barrero replaced amid scandals

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Gen Barrero and four other senior generals have been replaced in one of the biggest military shake-ups

Colombia's defence minister has replaced the chief of the armed forces in an effort to tackle a series of scandals involving the military.

In one of the biggest shake-ups of Colombia's military leadership, Gen Leonardo Barrero and four other senior generals were "sent into retirement".

The move follows allegations of a deep corruption network in Colombia's army.

Gen Juan Pablo Rodriguez has been named as the new chief of the armed forces.

Damaging recordings

Colombian news magazine Semana last week published an article alleging that a network of corrupt army officers had taken huge amounts of money in kickbacks and diverted public funds.

Following the article's publication, President Juan Manuel Santos ordered the ministry of defence to carry out a full investigation.

On Tuesday, Defence Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon said generals Manuel Guzman, Fabricio Cabrera, Diego Sanchez, and Jaime Reyes would leave the military "for failing to take adequate administrative action and scoring low marks during inspections".

Gen Barrero, meanwhile, was replaced for "making dismissive remarks" about an investigation into a separate army scandal.

Semana had posted taped recordings of Gen Barrero speaking to a retired officer under investigation for extrajudicial killings.

In the recordings, Gen Barrero seems to suggest officers should band together to discredit prosecutors investigating extrajudicial killings.

Mr Pinzon said Gen Barrero had been sent into retirement because of these "damaging remarks" and insisted he had not been linked to the corruption allegations.

Gen Barrero said he was leaving "with the tranquillity and satisfaction of having acted according to the principles and values that govern military life".

Mr Pinzon said an external commission would investigate the corruption allegations.

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