Colombia’s ex-security chief pleads guilty to para collaboration

Colombia’s Prosecutor General said Aug. 28 that judicial authorities are weighing whether to request that the US extradite back a former top-ranking army and National Police officer who one week earlier was arraigned before a federal court in Virginia. Gen. Mauricio Santoyo, security chief to Colombia’s then-president Álvaro Uribe from 2002-2006, pleaded guilty to collaborating with the outlawed AUC paramilitary network, while pleading not guilty to drug trafficking charges. Santoyo is accused of providing the AUC with intelligence from wiretaps and other sources about suspected guerilla collaborators.The AUC, officially demobilized in 2006, is considered a terrorist organization by the US. Support of terrorist organizations holds a maximum penalty of 30 years. Santoyo, who arranged his surrender to the DEA in Bogotá in June, will be sentenced in November. He still faces no charges in Colombia.

Uribe responded to the charges against his former security chief in a statement posted on the Web, saying that he “rejects, with pain and indignation, whatever delinquent conduct” Santoyo might have engaged in. He said the National Police and Defense Ministry had put Santoyo in charge of his security “without any intervention on my part.” (Colombia Reports, Aug. 28; Colombia Reports, Aug. 20; Colombia Reports, CNN, July 3; AP, June 18; El Espectador, Bogotá, June 16)