The Colombian Supreme Court of justice says ex-senator William Montes was captured Monday night in Cartagena for his presumed signing of an agreement with far-right paramilitaries, various media reported Tuesday.
Montes, a conservative ex-senator of the northern Bolivar department, was convicted of crimes against humanity Tuesday morning for helping “the political and economic project” of paramilitary group the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, or AUC.
He was sentenced to 90 months in prison and fined $2,000,000 for his participation in the signing of the so-called Ralito Pact in 2001, a secret pact signed by group of 18 politicians, including Montes, who met with paramilitaries bosses in Ralito, Cordoba, that called for the “refounding of the country” — in other words, securing political power for those involved.
According to the Supreme Court, Montes also met with paramilitaries of the AUC in the northern Cordoba department in 2003 to discuss his re-election plans.
Montes was convicted in absentia in 2009, when the Supreme Court of Justice re-activated a case against him based partially on testimonies from former paramilitary leaders. The ex-senator was arrested Monday night in Cartagena and kept under house arrest before being taken to Bogota’s La Pilota prison on Tuesday, wrote Colombian weekly Semana.
The practice of established politicians collaborating with far-right paramilitaries has become known as the “Parapolitics scandal” in Colombia. The scandal first broke in 2006 when senator Miguel de la Espriella exposed the signatories of the Ralito pact, which included signatures of top AUC leaders like Jorge 40 and Salvatore Mancuso.