HomeNewsBriefColombia Convicts Former Paramilitary Leaders for Hundreds of Crimes
BRIEF

Colombia Convicts Former Paramilitary Leaders for Hundreds of Crimes

AUC / 18 SEP 2017 BY TRISTAN CLAVEL EN

Dozens of individuals in Colombia have been sentenced for crimes committed while serving under the banner of demobilized paramilitary groups, illustrating how peace agreements with armed actors are capable of meting out justice, albeit after long and complicated processes.

A Colombian court sentenced 32 former paramilitary leaders for crimes committed by the Central Bolívar Block (Bloque Central Bolívar - BCB) of the now demobilized United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia - AUC), Colombian judicial officials announced on September 16.

The Attorney General's Office described the ruling as "historic" on Twitter, adding that the body had "ordered the seizure of assets of the convicted to compensate 4,260 victims."

The cases examined more than 250 homicides, over 320 incidents of forced disappearances, 213 incidents of forced displacement, as well as incidents of illegal recruitment and gender-based violence, La Nación reported. These crimes were committed across Colombia from 1999 to 2006, according to Semana.

Those convicted included Iván Roberto Duque Gaviria, alias "Ernesto Báez"; Guillermo Pérez Alzate, aka "Pablo Sevillano"; and Rodrigo Pérez Alzate, alias "Julián Bolívar." All three were considered among the highest-ranking paramilitary leaders at the time. Julián Bolívar, for instance, has already completed an eight-year sentence under the special justice framework, and is also wanted on drug trafficking charges by the United States.

The ruling was made under the 2005 Justice and Peace Law drafted as part of the demobilization agreement between the paramilitary groups and Colombia's government. Despite the severity of the crimes, under the terms of the deal those convicted will spend a maximum of eight years in prison.

InSight Crime Anaysis

The scale of the ruling is noteworthy not only because of the number of individuals convicted and the fact that they included high-ranking leaders, but also because it shows that justice can be achieved under special frameworks created by peace agreements between the government and armed groups, even if it involves lengthy and complicated judicial proceedings.

SEE ALSO: Colombia News and Profiles

The decision to freeze assets until they can be seized is also notable, as the issue of illicit assets has been an important question in the ongoing peace process with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia - FARC). The measure may be an attempt to prevent assets from being laundered or sold away by the criminals. And seizing illicit assets has been central to the extremely complex process of compensating victims.

The road to actually delivering money to the victims is still long, but the latest ruling underscores the authorities' strong intention to do so. And it is a positive sign for the current peace process with the FARC, which has faced scrutiny from critics who say it will facilitate impunity for the demobilizing guerrillas.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Tags

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

COLOMBIA / 19 JUL 2012

While a Colombian court handed down the first sentences for members of neo-paramilitary group ERPAC who surrendered in December,…

COLOMBIA / 21 FEB 2017

Security forces in Colombia have destroyed over 150 cocaine laboratories belonging to a criminal group that the government recently announced…

COLOMBIA / 24 JAN 2017

At least four criminal groups are apparently running the illegal economies in the port of Tumaco on Colombia's Pacific coast,…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Apure Investigation Makes Headlines

22 OCT 2021

InSight Crime’s investigation into the battle for the Venezuelan border state of Apure resonated in both Colombian and Venezuelan media. A dozen outlets picked up the report, including Venezuela’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.