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Extradited paramilitaries to testify from US jails

posted by Kirsten Begg

extradited paramilitaries

Colombian paramilitaries extradited to the U.S. are being concentrated into two jails, from which they will testify in Colombia’s Justice and Peace process, following a new agreement between the two nations.

Colombian authorities confirmed that former paramilitary leader Diego Murillo, alias “Don Berna,” was moved Thursday from a prison in New York to Miami’s Federal Detention Center.

Fellow former paramilitaries Ramiro “Cuco” Vanoy, Javier “Gordolindo” Zuluaga Lindo, Guillermo Perez, and Diego Ruiz Arroyave are expected to join Don Berna in the same Miami jail.

Next week, yet-to-be-sentenced paramilitary leaders Salvatore Mancuso, Hernan Giraldo, Juan Carlos Sierra, alias “El Tuso,” Miguel “El Mellizo” Mejia, Jose Gregorio Teran Vasquez, and Norberto Quiroga will be transferred to Virginia’s Northern Neck jail, from where they will be expected to give voluntary testimony on crimes they committed in Colombia.

According to El Tiempo, infamous paramilitary boss Rodrigo Tovar Pupo, alias “Jorge 40″ does not appear on the list of Colombians to be transferred.

The paramilitaries who have already been convicted and sentenced will be required to attend 21 hours of questioning a week, while those not yet sentenced must attend 40 hours a week.

These transfers are part of an agreement reached between the U.S. and Colombian governments following concerns, backed by some paramilitary leaders, that extradition had prohibited them from effectively participating in the Justice and Peace process. The program offers reduced sentences to paramilitaries in exchange for confessions of their crimes and reparation for their victims.

At the end of June Colombia amended its extradition treaty with the U.S. so that demobilized paramilitaries participating in the Justice and Peace program cannot be extradited until they have adequately complied with the reparation process.

Colombia’s Justice and Peace program has been criticized for taking too long to convict paramilitaries, with the first jail sentence handed down in June 2010, nearly five years after the process began.

The transfers will be completed by September 15.

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