The former top leader of the disbanded United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), Salvatore Mancuso, presented government prosecutors with the names of 31 high-ranking military and police officers who had ties to the outlawed paramilitaries—and even allowed them to carry out several massacres. Caracol Radio made public a document from the Fiscalía, or public prosecutor’s office, that mentions the names of soldiers ranging from the rank of sergeant to general who Mancuso said participated in joint operations with the paramilitaries.
Mancuso, recently extradited to the US on drug-trafficking charges, mentioned nine generals with ties to the AUC, including Rosso José Serrano, former National Police chief. He also named Gen. Rito Alejo Del Rio, one of the former officials closest to hardline Colombian President Alvaro Uribe. The documented made public by Caracol Radio cited Del Rio as the responsible for the formation of death squads in the banana-growing Urabá region, and said the general had pacts “with the AUC’s Carlos Castaño, Salvatore Mancuso and Freddy Rendon Herrera.” Also mentioned as either permitting or directly participating in massacres is Gen. Carlos Alberto Ospina—armed forces commander during Uribe’s first term in office, from 2002-2006. (EFE, El Tiempo, Bogotá, El Colombiano, Medellín, July 4)
See our last posts on Colombia and paramilitaries.
Colombian court nullifies first special paramilitary sentence
Colombia’s Supreme Court Aug. 18 nullified the first conviction by a special tribunal responsible for trials against demobilized AUC fighters. The paramilitary leader, Wilson Salazar Carrascal AKA “El Loro”, had been sentenced to five years and ten months for aggravated murder, fraud and extortion—but was not tried for conspiracy or being a member of a terrorist organization. The tribunal was ordered to start the trial over again and include the conspiracy charge. Members of the AUC who cooperate with justice are tried before special “Justice and Peace” tribunals that give lower sentences than normal courts would. If not tried according to the special law, “El Loro” could be sentenced to 40 years. (Colombia Reports, Aug. 18)