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Uribe Helped Plan 1997 Massacre, Former Warlord Tells Colombia’s War Crimes Tribunal

The former commander of the now-defunct paramilitary organization AUC told Colombia’s war crimes tribunal JEP that former President Alvaro Uribe was involved in a 1997 massacre.

Former AUC chief Salvatore Mancuso accused Uribe of being involved in the planning of the 1997 El Aro massacre in the north of the Antioquia province in an unclassified testimony before the JEP.

Uribe was governor of Antioquia when a group of more than 100 AUC fighters executed at least 12 locals, stole El Aro’s cattle and burned down most of the homes in the town.

Mancuso confirmed claims made former AUC fighters that he planned the massacre with Uribe, Antioquia’s late government secretary Pedro Juan Moreno, former Cordoba Police commander Raul Suarez, and army Generals Alfonso Manosalva and Ivan Ramirez.

“Uribe always knew of the El Aro operation,” the former AUC chief told the JEP.

Cordoba’s former police commander “took me to Uribe’s estate” to coordinate the massacre, according to Mancuso.

Both a Medellin Court and Colombia’s Supreme Court previously ruled that there was enough evidence to investigate the role of Uribe in the massacre.

Ignoring the fact that these court orders were based on multiple witness testimonies, Uribe accused the JEP of “not verifying lies.”

Mancuso gave the war crimes tribunal the names of some 300 people who were allegedly involved in war crimes committed by the AUC between 1997 and 2005 when the paramilitary organization formally demobilized.

The JEP ordered the prosecution to open criminal investigations into these alleged war criminals in a ruling that also accepted Mancuso’s submission to the transitional justice system.

The JEP has assumed the investigations into countless war crimes that were committed during the armed conflict between the now-defunct guerrilla group FARC and the State.

Those who cooperate with the JEP may be given judicial benefits in return for their testimonies.

Source : Colombia Reports