Colombia’s Justice and Peace tribunal voiced concerns over the length of time taken for charged paramilitary leaders to be tried by the country’s prosecutor general, reported El Espectador.
This follows the tribunal’s release in January of a 96 page document, which found paramilitary commanders Edwar Cobos Tellez and Uber Enrique Banquez, aliases “Diego Vecino” and “Juancho Dique,” guilty of massacre, torture and forced displacements committed whilst part of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC).
Although last year Banquez and Cobos Tellez spoke freely of and were charged for crimes including murder, torture, hostage taking, displacement of civilians and the destruction and appropriation of property in the regions of Sucre and Montes de Maria, no action was taken to prosecute the AUC commanders, and Colombia’s prosecutor general therefore did not hear their confessions in court.
“Dique and Vecino are paramilitary commanders. If their cases don’t advance, imagine those of their subordinates,” said a source close to the investigations.
Chief of the Justice and Peace unit of the Prosecutor General’s Office, Luis Gonzalez, has said that he feels confident that the court can convict up to 300 ex-AUC members, the cases against 280 of whom have already been prepared for presentation to the court. Gonzalez has attributed the lack of convictions to the lack of action on the part of judges, “who should be controlling this part of the process.”
Gonzalez’s predictions have, however, been deemed unrealistic by other authorities involved in the case.
Trials for the conviction of ex-AUC members for committing “crimes against humanity,” including the massacre of civilians, are ongoing in Colombia’s Court of Justice and Peace.