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Colombia sends calm-down message to disarmed paramilitaries
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14:17, August 25, 2007

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Colombia's Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos sent a calm-down message on Friday to paramilitaries participating in the peace process, after transferring two former chiefs of the paramilitaries to high security prisons for alleged new crimes.

"Those who continue to commit crimes will face the same fate," Santos told local radio. "Those who are fulfilling their commitment and are not involved in crime have nothing to fear."

Carlos Mario Jimenez, leader of one of the most powerful paramilitary organizations -- the Central Bolivar Bloc, had been transferred to Combita jail in central Colombia. The government accused him of committing new crimes of drug trafficking from his prison cell.

He will now face justice and could be extradited to the United States at Washington's request, Interior Minister Carlos Holguin said.

Another warlord, Diego "Don Berna" Fernando Murillo, was also taken there for security during a probe of possible violations of his peace deal.

One of the remaining warlords held in Itagui prison near Medellin, Francisco Zuluaga, said the commanders remained committed to the peace agreement.

Tension has eased after 40 years of civil war in Colombia with the paramilitary disarmament. Some 31,000 paramilitaries have handed over their weapons as part of the peace process.

Formed in the 1980s, the paramilitaries are accused of some of the worst massacres of left-wing rebels in the name of counter-insurgency.

Under the peace agreement between the paramilitaries and the government, the paramilitary commanders surrendered their weapons in exchange for short jail terms, provided they were not involved in crimes, gave full confessions and paid compensation to victims. Colombia also suspended U.S. extradition on drug trafficking charges for some warlords.

Source: Xinhua

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