Detaining the approximately 250 alleged members of neo-paramilitary organization ERPAC who surrendered to authorities last week would have been illegal, a high justice official says.
Amid a growing controversy regarding the massive release of the alleged members of the drug trafficking organization, the director of prosecution offices, Nestor Armando Novoa, defended the mass release of the alleged drug trafficking, saying the current legal system is unfit for the massive demobilization of a criminal organization.
“The law is created for a small group of individuals, but with a gang of criminals all reason is broken,” Novoa said on W Radio.
The judicial official’s statement contradicts that of other authorities who had been negotiating the demobilization since August and on December 18 — four days before the demobilization — said to be “ready” for the surrender of the ERPAC members.
On the day that ERPAC began their demobilization, Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon reiterated that demobilized members of illegal armed groups would receive no legal benefits and would “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.”
According to the conflict monitoring NGO Nuevo Arco Iris, 269 of the approximately 1,200 members of the feared neo-paramilitary group demobilized last Thursday and Friday. 248 of them were released. Previously, media reported that 284 fighters demobilized and 267 were released because they had no criminal record and were not wanted by the prosecution. Previous to the demobilization, ERPAC leader “Caracho” said that 450 members of his group would demobilize.
Following the release of the alleged ERPAC members, prosecutors issued an additional 51 arrest warrants on Sunday. Colombian media did not report how many of these arrests warrants resulted in arrests.