The Colombian Minister for Justice and the Interior in an interview with El Espectador, denied claims by extradited ex-paramilitary chief Salvatore Mancuso that he and others were extradited to the U.S. to shut them up.
Minister Fabio Valencia Cossio said that ex-paramilitaries such as Mancuso were extradited because thy “weren’t telling the truth or handing over their property”. He stressed that they were extradited for failing to comply with the terms of demobilization, including collaboration with justice.
Mancuso, who led the paramilitary demobilization, was one of 12 paramilitary leaders extradited to the U.S. in
May 2008. He believes that he and others were extradited to “shut them up”.
The extradited paramilitary has said that he is prepared to name the Congressmen involved in ‘parapolitcis’ – the use of
intimidation by the paramilitary to force the people to vote for
certain politicians, that had not been named.
In direct answer to the suggestion that certain ex-paramilitaries were extradited to shut them up, Valencia Cossio said, “if that were the case, why would the government be looking for a way for them to give their versions of the truth.”
He added that extradited paramilitaries are welcome to collaborate with Colombian justice once they have served their sentences in the U.S.
El Espectador commented that in cases such as that of extradited paramilitary drug lord ‘Don Berna’, who at the age of 46 and with a 30 year U.S. jail sentence will not return to Colombia until the age of 76, the chances of hearing “their version of the truth” are unlikely.
Valencia Cossio is in the U.S. this week to discuss refining the extradition treaty with U.S. Prosecutor General Eric Holder.