Former AUC paramilitary leader Salvatore Mancuso and his lawyers claim have said that his 22-year sentence contradicts a plea bargain negotiated by Mancuso in exchange for his cooperation with US investigations.
Mancuso and his legal team have submitted a formal claim wherein Mancuso alleges that he signed a pact in 2008 guaranteeing him a reduced sentence if he agreed to cooperate with US authorities.
Mancuso, along with 13 other paramilitary leaders, was extradited to the United States in 2008 to answer charges of drug trafficking in a surprise move by the Colombian government that was later deemed illegal by the Supreme Court and rejected by the Prosecutor General and human rights groups.
Per the agreement with the US prosecutors, Mancuso volunteered information that was key in unearthing drug trafficking activities previously unknown to the United States government.
Mancuso also shed light on the 1997 El Aro massacre wherein 15 alleged FARC supporters were killed by the AUC, explaining that the AUC received logistical support from the Colombian military and police.
The judge presiding over Mancuso’s case will review the claim on May 6, the date on which Mancuso was to be sentenced originally.
If the agreement for a reduced sentence is not honored, it may further complicate future cooperation from demobilized paramilitaries, some of whom have continued to assist Colombian authorities in clarifying their crimes and unearthing links between the paramilitary underworld and politics.
Paramilitary forces were active in Colombia between the 1980s and 2006 when the last member group of the AUC demobilized. The AUC was founded in 1997 to join the numerous paramilitary groups, after which it made major military advances against their rivals, leftist rebel groups FARC and ELN, and appropriated key drug trafficking routes.
The group is suspected to be guilty of tens of thousands of human rights violations and hundreds of cases of forced displacement.