Ex-paramilitary boss “Ernesto Baez” confirmed accusations that former-Peace Commissioner Luis Carlos Restrepo endorsed that drug trafficker “El Tuso” receive benefits meant only for demobilizing members of paramilitary group AUC, Caracol Radio reported Wednesday.
Baez, whose real name is Ivan Roberto Duque, claimed Restrepo endorsed the inclusion of drug trafficker Juan Carlos Sierra, alias “El Tuso” to be part of a group of demobilized AUC paramilitaries in 2006 so he could receive special benefits granted to demobilized paramilitaries.
Speaking to court, Ernesto Baez told how el Tuso was brought into the demobilization process by AUC chief “Don Berna.” He was introduced as finance commander of the Heroes de Granada block but was later expelled by Restrepo who argued he was not part of the illegal armed group.
However, just months after El Tuso’s initial visit to the Congress office to solicit help from Restrepo and former Interior Minister Sabas Pretelt de la Vega, conflicts erupted between de la Vega and Restrepo, said Ernesto Baez.
“The minister was keen to include him [el Tuso] as part of the process as he was convinved he was a member of our organization however Restrepo did not accept it.”
Ernesto Baez testified that Restrepo suggested el Tuso became part of the demobilization process on August 16, 2006 during a meeting in the town of La Ceja, Antioquia.
In February, el Tuso testified to meeting Restrepo on August 16 at a country house. Days after this alleged meeting he was included in the demobilization process, even though he’d never been involved in paramilitary activity.
The former paramilitary boss’ statements were made during the trial being conducted by the Supreme Court against the former lawmakers Luis Alberto Gil and Alfonso Riaño.