Merkel promises Colombia help with militia crimes

In the first visit ever by a German head of state to the country, Merkel supported Uribe in his efforts to buttress the authority of the state over the broiling conflicts that have put many sections of the country in a state of civil war.After meeting with Uribe, Merkel said that consequential pursuit of the crimes of the past by the paramilitary troops was essential to re-establishing the trust of the people in the state.Uribe defended his policies against charges that he has not prosecuted the right-wing paramilitary leaders harshly enough. Earlier this week, Colombia extradited 14 top right wing paramilitary leaders and drug dealers to the United States, where they are wanted on drug charges.Under the amnesty, rank and file troops were allowed to turn in their guns and return to civilian life while leaders were kept in jail.Meanwhile, the left wing Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) holds sway over large parts of the country, where they are holding hostages – some of them for more than seven years, and many of them top elected officials and security officers.Merkel greeted the massive investigation into 60 legislators suspected of being closely tied to the right wing paramilitary forces. Merkel said the probe showed that the justice system was working.Merkel indicated that she would like to meet with the State’s Attorney for a briefing about the investigations.

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