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Sat Nov 1, 2014, 09:18 PM

Paramilitary killing spree was Colombia ‘state policy': Judge

Paramilitary killing spree was Colombia ‘state policy': Judge
Nov 1, 2014 posted by Adriaan Alsema

A Bogota court ruled on Friday that a series of massacres, homicides and forced displacement operations carried out by paramilitaries in the north and northeast of Colombia in the late 1990s was “state policy.”

The condemnation came with a verdict in which the extradited chief of the paramilitaries, Salvatore Mancuso, was sentenced to eight years in prison. the maximum sentence agreed between the state and the paramilitaries in 2005 when signing peace.
As part of his plea bargain with the special Justice and Peace prosecution unit, Mancuso admitted to 402 crimes, including 300 murders of which one was of a 22-month-old girl.

Additionally, the paramilitary chief admitted to having led four massacres, and that under his command more than five thousand civilians were assassinated.

The man who led the AUC between 2004 and 2006 also laid bare how government officials and the military had made up an integrated part of the AUC’s operations.


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Reply Paramilitary killing spree was Colombia ‘state policy': Judge (Original post)
Judi Lynn Nov 2014 OP
Judi Lynn Nov 2014 #1

Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Sat Nov 1, 2014, 09:43 PM

1. Background on Colombian paramilitaries (death squads, narcotraffickers):

Right-wing paramilitary groups in Colombia are the parties claim to be acting in opposition to revolutionary Marxist-Leninist guerrilla forces and their allies among the civilian population. Anti-guerrilla paramilitary groups control the large majority of the illegal drug trade of cocaine and other substances together with the main Colombian drug cartels, especially in terms of trafficking and processing activities.

The first paramilitary groups were organized by the Colombian military following recommendations made by U.S. military counterinsurgency advisers who were sent to Colombia during the Cold War to combat leftist political activists and armed guerrilla groups. The development of later paramilitary groups has also involved elite landowners, drug traffickers, members of the security forces, politicians and multinational corporations. Paramilitary violence today is principally targeted towards peasants, unionists, indigenous people, human rights workers, teachers and left-wing political activists or their supporters.


Human rights violations[edit]

Right-wing paramilitary groups have been blamed for the vast majority of human rights violations in Colombia. The United Nations has estimated that approximately 80% of all killings in Colombia's civil conflict have been committed by paramilitaries, 12% by leftist guerrillas, and the remaining 8% by government forces.[88] In 2005, Amnesty International stated that The vast majority of non-combat politically-motivated killings, "disappearances", and cases of torture have been carried out by army-backed paramilitaries.[10] In its 1999 report, Human Rights Watch cited estimates from Colombian human rights organizations CINEP and Justice and Peace, which indicated that paramilitary groups were responsible for about 73% of identifiable political murders during the first half of 1998, with guerrillas and state security forces being blamed for 17 and 10 percent respectively.[89] The Colombian Commission of Jurists reported that, in the year 2000, approximately 85% of political murders were committed by the paramilitaries and state forces.[90]

Paramilitary violence is overwhelmingly targeted towards peasants, unionists, teachers, human rights workers, journalists and leftist political activists.[92][93]

Paramilitary abuses in Colombia are often classified as atrocities due to the brutality of their methods, including the torture, rape, incineration, decapitation and mutilation with chainsaws or machetes of dozens of their victims at a time, affecting civilians, women and children.[14][91][92]

Paramilitary forces in Colombia have additionally been charged with the illegal recruitment of children into the armed ranks. Though this is an offense punishable by national law, the prosecution rate for these crimes is less than 2% as of 2008.[94]

Many of these abuses have occurred with the knowledge and support of the Colombian security forces. A 1998 Human Rights Watch report stated:

... where paramilitaries have a pronounced presence, the army fails to move against them and tolerates their activity, including egregious violations of international humanitarian law; provides some paramilitary groups with intelligence used to carry out operations; and in other cases actively promotes and coordinates with paramilitary units, including joint maneuvers in which atrocities are the frequent result. ... In areas where paramilitaries are present, some police officers have been directly implicated in joint army-paramilitary actions or have supplied information to paramilitaries for their death lists. Police have also stood by while paramilitaries selected and killed their victims. On many occasions, police have publicly described whole communities as guerrillas or sympathetic to them and have withdrawn police protection, a violation of their responsibility under Colombian law to protect civilians from harm. Instead of reinforcing the police after guerrilla attacks, police commanders have withdrawn officers, thus encouraging or allowing paramilitaries to move in unimpeded and kill civilians.[34]


The Mapiripan Massacre[edit]

Main article: Mapiripán Massacre

In Mapiripán, Meta Department, an estimated 30 people were killed between July 14 to 20 1997. At least 100 heavily armed AUC members arrived in the town searching for people who were suspected leftist guerrilla supporters. They went from house to house referring to a list of names that had been prepared by informants earlier.

Civilians were taken to the town center where they were tortured by paramilitaries before being killed. After torturing their victims, the paramilitaries decapitated people with chainsaws, hung people from meat hooks, hacked people with machetes, cut people's throats and carved their bodies, and then threw their corpses into the nearby Guaviare River.[14][96][97]

The local judge of Mapiripan Leonardo Ivan Cortes called the police and the army eight times during the 5-day massacre, but they did not arrive until the AUC paramilitaries had left.[96] In March 1999, Colombian prosecutors accused Colonel Lino Sánchez of planning the massacre with Carlos Castaño. Sánchez was the operations chief of the Colombian Army's 12th Brigade. He has received special training by U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers on Barrancón Island on the Guaviare River. The training was finished very close to the time of the massacre.[98] The evidence showed that the paramilitaries landed unhampered at the San Jose del Guaviare airport which was heavily guarded by military personnel.[97


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