The man unofficially known as Colombia’s “oldest paramilitary” has accepted responsibility for a range of crimes including forced displacement, conscription of children and violence against women, during a trial that recommenced on Monday.
Ramon Isaza, known as “El Viejo” and described as Colombia’s “oldest paramilitary” by crime analysis website Insight Crime, was the founder and a leading member of the ‘Self -Defense Forces of Magdalena Medio‘ (ACMM).
The Bogota High Court of Peace of the Chamber of Justice and Peace is prosecuting Isaza and four other paramilitary commanders for 324 crimes against humanity.
The hearing, which took place on Monday, was the second time Isaza, who turns 73 next week, appeared in court after the initial hearing in August. The other commanders being tried are Walter Ochoa Guisao, alias “El Gurre,” Luis Eduard Zuluaga Arcila, alias “MacGyver,” Jhon Freddy Gallo Bedoya, alias “Pájaro” y Oliverio Isaza Gomez, alias “Terror.”
The prosecution was able to attain double charges against the suspects. Firstly, for being members of an armed group responsible for such crimes, and secondly as individuals for each of the alleged 324 incidents.
Isaza first formed an armed group in 1978, consisting of eight men and with the goal of fighting leftist insurgents in the area. He agreed to coordinate more closely with other paramilitary groups when AUC leader Carlos Castaño sought to unify right-wing paramilitary groups. However Isaza later distanced himself from Castaño due to the AUC’s involvement in the drug trade.
According to Insight Crime, during the first years of the ACMM their members received military training from British and Israeli mercenaries. His son Roque was arrested in September 2012. As he refused to participate in the Justice and Peace process he will be tried in a civilian court.
- Medida de aseguramiento a Ramón Isaza por 324 casos de lesa humanidad (El Espectador)
- Asegurado Ramón Isaza y otros cuatro comandantes de las AUC (Cable Noticias)
- ‘El viejo’, Ramón Isaza (Verdad Abierta)
- Paramilitary Arrest Closes Chapter in Colombia Conflict (Insight Crime)