Colombia’s Prosecution is investigating extradited former paramilitary
leader Hernan Giraldo Serna for child abuse in at least 20 cases. Six
of his alleged rape victims got pregnant before their 14th birthday, local
newspaper El Tiempo reported Monday.
After two years of investigation in La Sierra Nevada, the Prosecution has found the first victim who is willing to testify against Giraldo.
“One evening my mum went to Guachaca [municipality of Santa Marta] for a medical appointment and I was alone on the farm. At 4 o’clock in the afternoon Mr. Hernan arrived”, a now 23-year-old victim said. “I knew that he lead the paramilitary and he said that he would stay with me that night. The following day he left and then he returned every eight days. That is how I got pregnant.”
The rape victim was then 13-years-old and gave birth to two to sons by Hernan, who a decade ago was described as the “successor of Pablo Escobar” by Newsweek magazine.
“Three generations of girls grew up in the shadow of his armed power and at his mercy for him to do whatever he wanted with them . The most dramatic thing is that the majority of victims and their families see the cases as something normal”, one of the researchers told El Tiempo.
For months, nobody wanted to testify against Hernan. “We talked to the police, inspectors, priests, we met with the women and nothing”, the researcher added. “The world know what was going on, what had happened someone else’s daughter, but nobody said anything”.
When the silence was broken, the Prosecution discovered that some parents gave their daughters to the paramilitaries in hope of a better life. “If they liked the girls, they would marry them and thus ensure their future”, a family member of one of the victims said.
The authorities have identified 22 children of the former paramilitary
leader. However, rumors in La Sierra Nevada say that Hernan has more
than 100 children, according to El Tiempo.
So far, the Prosecution has visited 10 of 102 villages in La Sierra and believes it has enough evidence to accuse the extradited paramilitary of sex crimes and rape.