Extradited ex-paramilitary boss ‘Don Berna‘ was sentenced to 31 years in jail by a U.S. judge on charges of exporting cocaine to the U.S.
Diego Fernando ‘Don Berna’ Murillo, who was extradited to the U.S. in May 2008, was also instructed to pay US$4 million in fines.
Throughout the trial ‘Don Berna’ portrayed himself as a Colombian Robin Hood, who sold drugs to make money to fight Colombian guerrilla forces.
However prosecutor Eric Snyder likened ‘Don Berna’s’ work with paramilitary group AUC to that of terrorist organization al-Qaida.
During the trial ‘Don Berna’s’ lawyer read a statement written by the paramilitary warlord, in which he alleged that the AUC had financed current Colombian President Álvaro Uribe’s 2002 presidential campaign.
“Murillo’s defense said that the judge should take into consideration that Murillo and the AUC contributed to the presidential campaign with large quantities of money and supported the presidential aspirations of Álvaro Uribe,” victims rights activist Ivan Cepeda, who had attended the trial, said.
‘Don Berna’ is still under investigation by Colombian justice for his involvement in the disappearance and murder of hundreds of Colombian citizens.
He had demobilized and was working with the Colombian government under the Justice and Peace Law, which affords paramilitaries benefits, such as reduced sentences, in exchange for their demobilization and collaboration with justice. The government had him extradited to the U.S. because they believed him to still be working with paramilitary forces.