Alias “Sonia,” one of the alleged leaders of the banned paramilitary organization, AUC, has been cleared of all accusations levied against her, report local media on Tuesday.
Sonia, whose real name is Neyla Alfredina Soto Ruiz, was considered the political chief of alias “Jorge 40,” the leader of the AUC’s Northern Bloc, which instilled fear in people living in the northern Cesar, Norte de Santander and La Guajira departments until it disbanded in 2006.
Colombia’s Prosecutor General had accused her of assassination, kidnapping, forced displacement, forced disappearance and extortion.
A local Colombian judge on Tuesday said there was not enough proof to merit a conviction.
Sonia has been considered key to understanding the “parapolitics” scandal in northern Colombia, as she is suspected of having organized hundreds of meetings between paramilitaries and local politicians in several northern departments. Among them, the so called “Chivolo pact,” in which local politicians allied with Jorge 40 in order to receive his electoral approval.
In Colombia, the term parapolitics is used to describe the ties between the AUC, public officials and lawmakers. According to the Prosecutor General’s Office, more than 11,000 politicians, officials and businessmen are suspected of having made pacts with the AUC.
According to Colombian emisory La FM, Sonia was considered the “right hand” of the deseased AUC commander, Carlos Castaño.
Sonia demobilized in 2005 but was arrested in November 2008. At the time of her arrest, over 500 registers tied her to land theft, homicides and forced disappearance, reported conflict-monitoring website Verdad Abierta.
The Northern Bloc of the AUC is suspected of having murdered hundreds of civilians and displaced thousands during its decade of existence.