Salvatore Mancuso, the former paramilitary leader who led the demobilization of paramilitary group AUC, will not have to go to prison if he returns to Colombia in March next year.
A transitional justice judge on Monday ordered the release of Mancuso, who is currently in the United States where he is serving the last few months of a prison sentence for drug trafficking.
Despite objections of the prosecution, Mancuso will be granted conditional liberty on his return to Colombia where he is obliged to continue to collaborate with justice.
Apart from complying with his obligations with justice, the former AUC chief has indicated he wants to take part in an ongoing peace process with the FARC, the paramilitaries former arch enemy.
While this is good news for his victims and the Truth Commission, Mancuso’s revelations about his allies in politics, the security forces and the private sector are likely to cause unrest among Colombia’s elite.
Mancuso’s alleged business associates
- Termotasajero power plant
- Food distribution center Cenabastos
- Rancher’s federation Fedegan
- Rice growers federation Fedearroz
- Oil company Ecopetrol
- Private security firm Aguas Mansas y Vigilar Asociados
- RCN Television
- Cordoba ranchers’ fund
- Norte de Santander power plant
11 lost years
Former President Alvaro Uribe extradited Mancuso and 13 other paramilitary bosses to the United States in 2008 without a warrant.
Extradition forms part of the Colombian government strategy… to frustrate the rights of victims, and promote impunity for those most responsible for the crimes committed by paramilitary groups over the past 25 years: politicians at local, regional and national level, members of the Colombian Armed Forces, State officials, corporations and large landowners.
The extradition did major damage to the peace process and allowed countless businessmen, politicians and members of the security forces to get away with crimes against humanity.
This may have worked for 11 years, but that impunity party will be over once Mancuso in liberty begins spilling the beans about his former associates who went on pretending to be “good Colombians” while he was serving time.