Wealthy landowners paid paramilitary organization AUC approximately $26,000 for the 1997 massacre of Mapiripan in which an unknown amount of small farmers were killed, an ex-paramilitary commander testified Wednesday.
According to “Don Raul,” a former AUC commander who turned himself in in December, testified before prosecutors that cattle ranchers Benigno Santamaria and Mario Zambrano agreed to the payment with AUC founders Vicente and Carlos Castaño days before the massacre took place.
The pact between the cattle ranchers and the paramilitaries was confirmed by AUC commander “El Aleman” and his brother “Don Mario” who commanded the paramilitary forces at the time they were moving from the northwest of Colombia into the eastern plains where the FARC at that time were in control.
“Don Raul,” who had been accused of being directly responsible for the massacre did not speak out about the number of people killed in the massacre.
According to the late Carlos Castaño, 49 locals were murdered and their bodies thrown into the river.
Colombia’s Prosecutor General’s Office last year alleged that only ten people had been murdered and demanded the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to revoke a 2009 ruling forcing the state to compensate victims. This demand was turned down by the IACHR that argued Colombia’s evidence was “incomplete” and “illegible.”