Former paramilitary leader, Salvatore Mancuso, has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for the murder of a Colombian lawyer.
Mancuso, a notorious ex-AUC paramilitary leader, was convicted for the murder of Stella Viancha Martha Rangel. Mancuso agreed to a plea bargain from the prosecutor, accepting responsibility as co-author of the murder that occurred in April 2003, according to the Colombian prosecutor general’s office.
A lawyer of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Responsiblity prosecuted the much anticipated case, charging Mancuso with, among others, aggravated conspiracy, kidnapping and murder.
The murdered lawyer was kidnapped from the organization where she worked, near the Venezuelan border. She was found hours later, dead on an airport runway with two gunshot wounds to her head, according to newspaper El Heraldo.
Mancuso is currently imprisoned in the U.S. for drug trafficking charges. He also took part in the demobilization of the “Catatumbo Bloc” of the AUC in 2004 and has recently implicated several Colombian army officials for massacres that occurred in the 1990’s.
The ex-paramilitary leader was initially a beneficiary of Colombia’s Justice and Peace Law, whereby demobilized paramilitaries could only be sentenced to a maximum of eight years in prison, provided they confess their crimes and surrender. However he lost the right to enjoy benefits under the law after being extradited to the United States in 2008 on charges of drug trafficking.