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Colombia's military chief fired for maligning human rights probes

  • 32cc8287ea3031064c0f6a70670080a0.jpg

    In this Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, photo, Army Commander Gen. Juan Pablo Rodriguez, right, talks to Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos, during a military ceremony in Bogota, Colombia. Santos announced that changes on the military chain of command will be decided Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014, after the country's leading newsmagazine, Semana, reported on what it called widespread kickbacks in multimillion-dollar military contracts, and the publication online of an audio recording in which Gen. Leonardo Barrero, the armed forces chief, is heard verbally maligning prosecutors' investigations into the extrajudicial killings that have brought Colombia international reproach. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)The Associated Press

  • 4dc21721ea3931064c0f6a706700fa65.jpg

    In this photo taken on Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos, right, Colombia's armed forces chief Gen. Leonardo Barrero, center, and army commander Gen. Juan Pablo Rodriguez, left, attend a military ceremony in Bogota, Colombia. Santos announced that changes on the military chain of command will be decided Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014, after the country's leading newsmagazine, Semana, reported on what it called widespread kickbacks in multimillion-dollar military contracts, and the publication online of an audio recording in which Gen. Leonardo Barrero is heard verbally maligning prosecutors' investigations into the extrajudicial killings that have brought Colombia international reproach. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)The Associated Press

  • b3c48f39ea3531064c0f6a706700e183.jpg

    In this Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, photo, Colombia's armed forces chiefs, from left, Air Force commander Guillermo Leon, Navy Commander Vice Admiral Hernando Wills, Military's Chief of Staff Gen. Hugo Acosta, Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon, President Juan Manuel Santos, Commander of Army Forces Gen. Leonardo Barrero, Army Commander Gen. Juan Pablo Rodriguez, and Police chief Rodolfo Palomino, review the troops during a military ceremony in Bogota, Colombia, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014. Santos announced that changes on the military chain of command will be decided Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014, after the country's leading newsmagazine, Semana, reported on what it called widespread kickbacks in multimillion-dollar military contracts, and the publication online of an audio recording in which Gen. Leonardo Barrero, the armed forces chief, is heard verbally maligning prosecutors' investigations into the extrajudicial killings that have brought Colombia international reproach. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)The Associated Press

Colombia's president has fired his armed forces chief for verbally maligning prosecutors involved in investigations of officers accused of ordering extrajudicial executions.

President Juan Manuel Santos told reporters Tuesday that Gen. Leonardo Barrero was being relieved for insulting the judiciary and nation in a phone conversation published over the weekend.

The conversation was recorded by prosecutors investigating graft by senior officers in allegedly inflated military contracts and was revealed by the newsmagazine Semana.

In one recording, Barrero is heard telling a colonel jailed in an extrajudicial killings case that prosecutors are "a bunch of crap" and suggesting a counterattack be mounted to discredit them.

Colombian soldiers are accusing of committing hundreds of extrajudicial slayings through 2008, dressing victims in fatigues and presenting them as guerrillas killed in combat.