Colombia’s Peace Commissioner, Frank Pearl, downplayed the importance of the refusal of extradited paramilitary leader ‘Don Berna’ to cooperate with Colombian justice to clarify crimes committed under his command.
On Monday, ‘Don Berna’ suspended his cooperation with Colombian justice, because “the safety of my family and my legal counsel is at permenant risk.”
According to Pearl, this should not affect Colombia’s search for truth, as “the truth is known by lower commanders in jail in Colombia today. They are going to testify before the prosecution,” Pearl said.
The Peace Commissioner stressed that in Colombia “it is not always the highest commanders but the lower ones [who have information]. In Colombia we have 3,000 people in jail that know the facts and are testifying.”
Diego Fernando ‘Don Berna’ Murillo is not the first extradited paramilitary head who has suspended his cooperation; ‘Cuco’ Vanoy earlier suspended his cooperation after his son was murdered.
A number of the extradited warlords initially did continue their cooperation, despite their extradition, and were accusing local and national politicians and high military officials of making pacts with the AUC.
‘Don Berna’ accused the government of a “campaign to silence him,” something vice-President Francisco Santos Wednesday denied. Santos told Spanish press agency EFE he doesn’t believe criminals.
“There is no campaign to silence anybody, but to comply to the law,” Santos said.
The vice-President and former director of newspaper El Tiempo asked Colombian media to be “a bit more selective for whom they turn on a microphone” and not use “thugs as sources of information.”
Several national and international organizations have criticized the Colombian government over the extradition of the AUC’s top leaders to the United States, saying their extradition is obstructing finding out the truth about links between the AUC and politicians.