Posted by Kirsten Begg on Dec 10, 2009 Leave a comment

Piedad Cordoba supports Mancurso’s repatriation

piedad cordoba

Opposition Senator Piedad Cordoba supported extradited former paramilitary leader Salvatore Mancurso’s request to be repatriated Thursday because she believes the Justice and Peace process is “a failure”.

Cordoba said that paramilitaries extradited to the U.S. should be repatriated so that they can give their version of the truth about atrocities committed by paramilitary groups, El Espectador reported Thursday.

The ‘Colombians for Peace’ leader added that the justice and peace system – in which members of illegal armed groups collaborate with authorities in exchange for reduced sentences – is not working because in five years only one person has been sentenced.

According to Cordoba “the leadership” that created paramilitary groups around the country “remains the same, whether it be the government or the private sector”.

Cordoba said repatriation of extradited paramilitaries was justified because “one of the things that has allowed these things to continue with impunity is the great distance [to the U.S.] which makes it difficult to access evidence and to conduct public hearings.”

The Senator also revealed that she had had “the opportunity to speak to many paramilitaries who were detained and had the intention of confessing their crimes but were assassinated several days after I spoke to them.”

Cordoba added that “we have the strength and ethics to withstand the ravages not only of government but of the establishment which is responsible for ensuring that paramilitary activity has not disappeared.”

Cordoba returned this week from the U.S., where she met with Mancuso in his jail cell.

Earlier today the Colombian Congress received a letter from Mancuso in which he requested to be repatriated.

Mancuso led the demobilization of the paramilitary organization AUC in 2006 and 2007. His organization is suspected of tens of thousands of crimes against humanity, including thousands of murders, rapes and forced displacement.

He was extradited in May 2008 and awaits trial in a U.S. jail for drug-related crimes.