Colombia’s Supreme Court finally called former senator Piedad Zuccardi to trial on Monday for conspiracy to commit crimes and having links with paramilitary group leaders — a crime known as ‘parapolitics’.
Zuccardi was arrested in February of this year on accusations of having taken part in meetings with the now defunct paramilitary group, AUC, who supposedly provided support for her congressional campaign in 2002. She has been in jail awaiting trial since her arrest.
The meetings, known as “Barranco de Loba” and “Caramelo,” allegedly occurred with former AUC leader, Salvatore Manusco, and former AUC commander, Manuel Antonio Castellanos, alias “El Chino.”
In an attempt to preempt her arrest earlier in the year, Zuccardi was reported to have fled to Costa Rica and Panama, where she unsuccessfully sought asylum.
The AUC operated from 1997 until their ostensible demobilization in 2006, and within this period formed a relationship of mutual support with many figures in the Colombian government and security forces. The relationship became public in 2006 and has since resulted in the conviction of approximately 55 members of congress and the investigation of more than 150, according to the 2013 report on Colombia by Human Rights Watch.
Since the “parapolitics” scandal erupted in 2006, more than 150 former and current members of Congress have come under investigation, and approximately 55 have been convicted.
Forty years in prison has become a standard punishment for those found guilty of parapolitics.
The former senator’s trial will likely begin within the week.
- A juicio Piedad Zuccardi por parapolítica (Radio Santa Fe)
- Los pactos que vinculan a piedad zuccardi con paras (Politica Legal)
- World Report 2013 (Human Rights Watch)