Former members of demobilized paramilitary organization AUC have confessed to 30,000 murders so far, and prosecutors suspect them of a total 150,000 killings, newspaper El Tiempo reported on Monday.
Some 2,000 paramilitaries, whose organizations were founded in the mid-1980s to counter left-wing guerrilla attacks, made confessions as part of a settlement with the government that gives them milder punishments in exchange for the truth about their crimes.
However, another 1,200 paramilitaries have still not responded to requests by investigators to make statements.
Paramilitary fighters taking part in the demobilization program have so far confessed to the murders of 30,000 Colombians, but, according to the Prosecutor General’s Office, this leaves a further 120,000 murders of which paramilitaries are suspected still unsolved.
Luiz Gonzalez, boss of the Prosecutor General’s Justice and Peace Unit, stresses that his office will revoke benefits granted to the 30,000 demobilized paramilitaries if they are found guilty of committing crimes to which they did not voluntarily confess.
The apparent lack of will of paramilitaries to fully cooperate with the authorities is not the only thing obstructing the finding and identifying of tens of thousands of the paramilitaries’ victims; Colombia’s clogged judicial system is delaying the interrogation and investigation of hundreds of paramilitaries who have expressed their wish to cooperate, Gonzales said.
So far, investigators have exhumed 2828 victims from 2316 graves. The remains of 721 victims of paramilitary violence have been returned to their families, but thousands of mass graves are still waiting to be opened.