Colombia’s Supreme Court of Justice said Tuesday it has passed the case against former army General Rito Alejo del Rio, suspected of collaborating with paramilitary death squads, to a specialist judge, on the grounds that it falls outside the court’s jurisdiction.
The court said the case is not in its jurisdiction, because Del Rio is not on trial for a crime committed in his capacity as an army general, and must be tried as a civilian.
Del Rio is on trial for his complicity in the murder of farmer Mario Lopez by paramilitary group Bloque Elmer.
The court reopened the case against Del Rio last March, after several testimonies made by demobilized paramilitaries linked the retired general to paramilitary coalition the Self Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC).
Demobilized paramilitary leader Freddy “El Aleman” Rendon Herrera testified that the army brigade Del Rio commanded was involved in Lopez’s murder.
Del Rio is suspected of having allowed paramilitaries to kill dozens of innocent civilians when he was commanding the army’s 17th Brigade in the 1990s. He has never been convicted, but is now in jail awaiting justice.