The Colombian government reiterated Thursday that neo-paramilitaries will receive no special legal benefits but will have the opportunity to a fair trial if they turn themselves in.
According to the director of the Colombian Agency for Reintegration, Alejandro Eder, “In the case of the so-called criminal gangs, these groups have no choice in the process of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, purely due to the nature of these organizations, so the option they have is the option of submitting to justice. They [will] receive some types of legal benefits of reduced sentences, but they have no access to the Justice and Peace Law” which was designed to assist the peace process in Colombia by granting procedural benefits to certain guerrillas and members of the paramilitary AUC who agreed to demobilize.
Colombian Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon said that criminals who do not submit willingly will be pursued more intensively in 2012, thanks to the integrated efforts of the Armed Forces and National Police.
Beginning Thursday, some 320 members of the neo-paramilitary group ERPAC are expected to demobilize over the next 10 days; however, since they are primarily a drug trafficking gang, they will not receive the benefits of the Justice and Peace Law.