One of Colombia’s former presidents paid for the extraofficial military training of paramilitary death squads, Israeli mercenary Yair Klein told a Colombian court Tuesday.
Klein, convicted in Colombia for training Medellin cartel and paramilitary death squads in the 1980s, told a court via teleconference that “one of the trainees was later president of Colombia…he was one of the landowners who paid for the training…I’m not saying the name because you know exactly who it is,” claimed Klein.
Klein’s testimony came during the trial of the former paramilitary head of the AUC in Middle Magdalena, “Ramon Isaza.”
Klein also accused the top officials in the Ministry of Agriculture and the Colombian Army of condoning the training of paramilitary forces.
“The army promoted these paramilitary organizations, the army did not give the proper response to fight the guerrillas so they allowed us to train the paramilitaries,” said Klein. “As the army could not give adequate response to the guerrillas, the training of paramilitaries was authorized.”
According to Klein, elements of the Colombian government, including politicians, actually helped finance the Israeli’s operations. “The Army and the Ministry of Agriculture decided to sell livestock in order to obtain my services,” alleged the former mercenary.
Klein established ties with Colombia in the early 80’s through his private mercenary group Spearhead Ltd. The company allegedly trained and provided weapons to Colombia’s armed forces. Following his first visit to Colombia in 1988, Klein began training paramilitary death squads allegedly at the encouragement of Colombian officials.