One of Colombia’s most notorious war lords has begun testifying before the war crimes tribunal about the now-defunct paramilitary organization AUC.
War crimes tribunal JEP heard Rodrigo Tovar in order to decide whether to allow the former AUC commander into the transitional justice system.
The JEP ordered extra hearings before deciding if Tovar’s contribution to the truth about the armed conflict merits the judicial benefits granted to those who submit before the transitional justice system.
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Tovar’s problematic cooperation with justice
The transitional justice system that tried paramilitary war crimes stripped the former AUC commander of such benefits in 2015 for his failures to cooperate.
Tovar stopped cooperating with Colombian justice after his surprise extradition to the United States in 2008 and the assassination of his brother in 2009.
The former war lord’s defense said that prison authority INPEC had been obstructing Tovar’s cooperation with the JEP since his repatriation in 2020.
The former AUC chief additionally said that ongoing prosecution investigations impeded him to confess crimes without incriminating himself.
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Tovar’s distrust in justice
In order to allow the Tovar to testify freely, JEP magistrate Sandra Castro agreed to make parts of the hearings confidential.
Castro additionally said she would order INPEC to facilitate confidential meetings between the former paramilitary commander and his lawyers.
The decisions of the JEP ended Tovar’s reluctance to talks about his collaboration with the AUC between 1996 and 1998.
The JEP may assume investigations into Tovar’s war crimes between 1998 and the Northern Bloc’s demobilization in 2006 if the war crimes tribunal decides the former AUC commander has been cooperative.
The Northern Bloc’s victims
The Prosecutor General’s Office said in 2020 that it was carrying out almost 1,500 criminal investigations against the former paramilitary commander.
According to the National Center for Historical Memory, the Northern Bloc left more than 17,000 victims between 1996 and 2006 when Tovar demobilized his fighters.