The extradition started early Tuesday morning when unexpectedly the most senior of paramilitary bosses were taken from their prison cells in Itaguí, Bogotá and Barranquilla and escorted away in large government SUV’s.Interior Minister Carlos Holguin says the government is extraditing the paramilitary warlords to the United States for failing to comply with the country’s Peace and Justice law. Under the 2003 pact, the far-right Colombian militia leaders were supposed to confess their crimes and surrender ill-gotten riches in exchange for reduced jail sentences.
|List of extradited paramilitaries|
According to the Colombian Government all thirteen leaders have refused to confess their crimes, they have not given up their properties to be used to compensate the victims of their crimes and are still involved with criminal activities.Colombian prosecutors blame the warlords for some of their nation’s worst atrocities and they were extradited because “they were committing crimes and reorganizing criminal structures” from prison, Holguin told Caracol radio.But it appears that the United States will not prosecute them for any human rights violations, although U.S. Drug Czar John Walters told the Associated Press that some of the drug charges involve violent acts.The move came as President Alvaro Uribe, a key Washington ally, faces growing pressure over a scandal tying some of his lawmaker allies to the ex-militias and U.S. Democrats resist a Colombian trade deal because of concerns over rights abuses.Relatives of the paramilitary victims complained that shipping them to the United States will make it more difficult to obtain justice and secure reparations for thousands of families. A tenth of Colombia’s congress, including many close allies of President Alvaro Uribe, have been jailed for allegedly colluding with the warlords.Iván Cepeda, advocate of victims of the paramilitary, said the extradition was a “smokescreen” to avoid further escalation of the parapolitics scandal, that is haunting President Uribe and his political allies. Many political allies of the President are currently being investigated for having ties with the extradited paramilitary bosses.Cepeda accused the government of not granting the victims the closure they need. “What happened today is removing the fundaments of the law for Justice and Peace,” he said on Caracol Noticias.The paramilitary leaders will be taken to prisons in New York City, Washington DC, Houston and Miami.