Colombia’s Supreme Court of Justice said Thursday that as many as 527 Colombian politicians could be prosecuted for crimes against humanity, El Heraldo reports.
According to figures obtained by the Colombian NGO Nuevo Arco Iris, 107 lawmakers and former lawmakers have been linked with “parapolitics.” 33 of the 107 have been arrested by order of the Supreme Court, 15 have been sentenced to date and there are 420 local politicans, including mayors, governors and congressman, yet to be investigated.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court opened preliminary investigations against eight former congressmen accused of ties to paramilitary death squads and crimes against humanity.
Dief Maloof, Luis Eduardo Vives, Alfonso Campo, Saloman Saade, Jorge Luis Caballero, Mauricio Pimiento, Jorge Castre Pacheco and Cesar Perez Garcia are all accused of negotiations with paramilitary figures.
Cesar Perez Garcia is also under investigation for his part in a 1988 massacre in Segovia, Antioquia when a group of paramilitaries assasinated 43 people and injured another 45.
Colombian lawyer and politician Jaime Castro described the decision to open the investigations as a political time bomb, adding that “this is very explosive, it is not a minor decision.”
However, Leon Valencia, president of Nuevo Arco Iris, said the Supreme Court’s decision was completely justified because “parapolitics” included intimidation of the electorate as well as massacres, disappearances and torture.
Valencia explained that it is possible to verify that “they killed people to send messages, to control territories, to control the local political power, and to force the vote in one direction or another.”
Since 2006 Colombia parapolitical scandals have become increasingly frequent.
Colombian President Alvaro Uribe’s cousin, Mario Uribe is currently standing trial after his arrest in February for allegedly collaborating with two commanders from the far-right terrorist group, United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC).
Earlier this month in the eastern department of Casanare, the former deputy Milton Alvarez was accused of illegal negotiations with paramilitary boss Miguel Leguizamon, known as “El Boyaco,” and former paramilitary Gustavo Ramirez, alias “El Tabano,” went as far as to accuse all the politicians in the region of parapolitical negotiations.