Six former paramilitaries have been handed 20 year prison sentences for carrying out the 2005 San Jose de Apartado massacre, reported Radio Caracol Monday.
The sentence was the result of a plea bargain, in which each was convicted of homicide of a protected person and aggravated conspiracy. A seventh man was convicted of the latter charge, receiving a three-year sentence.
The massacre took place in the villages of Mulatos and La Resbalosa, both in the district of San Jose de Apartado, in the central department of Antioquia.
The court was told how on 21 February 2005, Aldo Antonio Agamez Cruz, Javier Enrique Salgado Martinez, Jorge Luis Gutierrez, Juan Alberto Ruiz Yañez, Manuel Antonio Urango Mejía, and Yamid de Jesus Gonzalez Galaraga went to Mulatos and murdered a couple and their two children. The next day, in La Resbalosa, they killed another couple, their child and another adult male.
All six were members of the Tolova Heroes Bloc, part of the AUC paramilitary organization, who were accompanying the Colombian military on a patrol of the area. In 2010, Former army Captain Guillermo Gordillo was sentenced to 20 years for his part in the massacre.
Later that year, ten members of the Colombian military were acquitted of the massacre when the court accepted that the paramilitaries had parted from the army, during which time the massacre was committed.
In 1997 the people of San Jose de Apartado declared themselves a “peace community” and neutral in Colombia’s internal conflict. They were placed under the protection of the inter-American Commission on Human Rights, however the community has been consistently targeted by illegal groups, with three community leaders murdered last year.