The former head of now defunct paramilitary organization the AUC, Salvatore Mancuso, has failed to appear for the third time in front of victims of a 1997 massacre.
Victims of a massacre in Mapiripan, Meta department, in which members of the AUC slaughtered and raped villagers with the collaboration of the Colombian Army, gathered to speak to Mancuso by videolink at a meeting this week.
A conversation with the ex-paramilitary head had been promised to them by former president Alvaro Uribe under the 2005 Justice and Peace law, which promises reparations to victims of the conflict.
Mancuso, who is currently in jail in the U.S., has admitted his role in the massacre, but victims and their relatives want more information about what exactly happened. According to their lawyers, he has important information about the involvement of army members, specifically Generals Rito Alejo de Rio, Fredy Padilla, Harold Bedoya and Agustin Ardila.
Mancuso claims to have received death threats against his family if he speaks out further, and according to the victims’ lawyer this is why he failed to appear for a third time. Those who have “an interest in denying the massacre happened” are making sure he keeps quiet, they say.
Relatives described the latest adjournment of the hearing as a mockery, especially in light of recent accusations that certain Mapiripan victims made up their stories in order to receive government compensation.
Mancuso’s lawyer will have to explain why he did not appear.
The Colombian government has accused victims’ relatives and their lawyers of a “shameless” conspiracy to defraud the state, and attempted last November to get the 2005 ruling requiring it to pay them compensation revoked.
But the Inter-American Court of Human Rights threw out their case, describing evidence of so-called “false victims” as incomplete and illegible, and blaming the Colombian government for all inconsistencies.