Colombia: scion snared for paramilitarism

Agents of Colombia's Fiscalía General on Feb. 26 arrested Santiago Uribe Vélez, brother of former president and current right-wing senator Álvaro Uribe Vélez for alleged involvement in the 12 Apostles paramilitary group that terrorized Yarumal municipality, Antioquia department, in the 1990s. The prominent Yarumal rancher was arrested in Medellín, and is said to be suspected of aggravated homicide "delinquency"—meaning involvement in organized crime. An investigation opened in 2014 into his role in the paramilitary group, which is said to have carried out a campaign of at least 33 assassinations of suspected FARC supporters. (El EspectadorEl Espectador, Feb. 29) Attorney Daniel Prado Albarracín, representing victims of the 12 Apsotles, is calling for the Santiago Uribe to also be investigated on charges of torture and forced displacement. (El Espectador, March 1)

Arrested separately Feb. 26 was Jaime Ernesto Gómez Muñoz, an agent of the now-disbanded DAS intelligence agency who in 1990 had been assigned to act as a bodyguard for presidential candidate (and former M-19 guerilla leader) Carlos Pizarro Leongómez when he was assassinated on a Bogotá-Barranquilla plane flight. Gómez Muñoz is now suspected of involvement in the slaying. (El Tiempo, Feb. 26)

The Fiscalía General also announced that it will seek the testimony of imprisoned paramilitary warlords Salvatore Mancuso Gómez and Rodrigo Tovar Pupo AKA "Jorge 40" in its investigation of a wave of "disappearances" and gruesome murders that took place in Bogotá's La Modelo prison between 1999 and 2001—with suspected collusion of authorities. (El Espectador, Feb. 26)

The Fiscalía's Technical Investigative Corps is currently carrying out foresnic work to document a prolonged massacre believed to have been carried out by the the Campesino Self-Defense Units of Córdoba and Urabá (ACCU) at Pavarandó, Mutatá municipality, in Antioquiia's northern Urabá region, in late 1997 and early 1998. Five sets of remains were recovered at scattered sites in February. Locals say the ACCU gunmen scattered bodies of assassinated campesinos at various sites in the area's jungle. Four people have been arrested in connection with the massacre. (El Colombiano, Feb. 28; El Tiempo, Feb. 23)

Arley Úsuga Torres AKA "Zarco," cousin of the notorious "Otoniel"—fugitive leader of the Úsuga Clan that is said to lead the Urabeños paramilitary network—was turned over to US DEA agents Feb. 24 after being captured in the Colombian army's "Operation Agamemnon" at Chigorodó, Antioquia, with several of his top collaborators. (El Tiempo, Feb. 24) More than 600 campesinos have been displaced by Urabeño terror in northern Colombia in recent months. (El Espectador, Feb. 29)

Óver Enrique Fuentes Villalba, leader of the Agroindustrial Workers Syndicate (SINATRA) in Apartadó, Antioqioa, survived an assassination attempt Feb. 23, when the windows of his home were shot out by unknown assailants. (El Colombiano, Feb. 24)

In the northern departments of Córdoba and Cesar, so-called "social cleansing" groups have distributed flyers in several towns threatening to kill sex workers, drug users and "delinquents" (meaning common criminals). (Colombia Informa, Feb. 25)

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