The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has visited members of the demobilized AUC jailed in Colombia to offer them benefits in exchange for information about their former organization’s ties to multinationals, particularly coal giant Drummond, newspaper El Tiempo reported Sunday.
According to the newspaper, special agents Marc L. Varri and Manuel Ortega have been in Colombia for four months, questioning senior members of the AUC who are thought to have concrete evidence of payments made by U.S. multinationals to the paramilitary organization.
Five out six paramilitaries are involved in the murder of three labor rights activists who were killed while working for Drummond, the coal company currently is facing a lawsuit by families of victims of paramilitary violence, allegedly ordered by Drummond’s Colombia office.
“They are proposing we testify before a Washington prosecutor, Elisa Pottea, and in exchange they offer to arrange a 25% lowering of the sentence in Colombia, parole and the possibility to travel to the U.S. as protected witnesses with a visa for the whole family,” one of the paramilitaries who says he received a visit from the FBI told El Tiempo.
“This is good news. Because of delays and permissions of [Colombia’s prison authority] INPEC, we have not been able to get all these testimonies,” Terry Collingsworth, the attorney of the paramilitary victims in the Drummond case, told the newspaper.
According to El Tiempo, Drummond refused to comment on the matter and the newspaper is waiting for a response of the U.S. Embassy in Bogota about how FBI agents are able to offer lower sentences imposed by Colombian courts.