Colombia: peace negotiator implicated in atrocity

A imprisoned ex-commander of Colombia's far-right AUC paramilitary network on Aug. 12 testified that an army general now taking part in peace negotiations with FARC rebels also took part in the killing of journalist and comedian Jaime Garzón. According to a report in news magazine Semana, the ex-commander of the AUC's notorious Cacique Nutibara Bloc, Diego Fernando Murillo Bejarano AKA "Don Berna," testified before Colombian prosecutors that among those conspiring to kill Garzón on August 13, 1998 were Maj. Mauricio Santoyo of the National Police, army Gen. Harold Bedoya and, most controversially, then-army commander Gen. Jorge Enrique Mora. Santoyo, who was later promoted to general and became the personal security chief of then-president Alvaro Uribe, was sentenced to 13 years by a US court after being convicted of protecting drug traffickers. Bedoya, currently a close ally of Uribe in opposing the peace talks, has long been accused of ties to the AUC, which committed tens of thousands of rights violations between 1997 and 2006 when its last unit was demobilized. Don Berna's testimony from his Miami prison cell came one day before the 16th anniversary of Garzón's slaying. (Colombia Reports, Aug. 13; El Colombiano, Aug. 12)