Colombia sentences 2 ex-paramilitary chiefs to jail

09:01, July 01, 2010      

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Two former Colombian paramilitary chiefs were sentenced to eight years in prison each for masterminding the murder of 13 native people in 2000, the government said on Wednesday.

The sentence was the first of its kind since the government began the demobilization process of the paramilitaries.

It was issued by the Justice and Peace Tribunal of Bogota against Edward Cobos alias "Diego Vecino" and Uber Banquez alias "Juancho Dique," two former chiefs of the so-called United Self-Defense of Colombia (AUC).

The government said the two were the masterminds of "grave infraction to the Humanitarian International Law," including the forced displacement of civilians, kidnapping and homicide.

The government's commissioner for peace Fran Pearl said despite Cobos and Banquez could serve a maximum jail term up to 39 years in prison, they were sentenced to less jail time "with balance between the justice and peace". He added that "the victims will be materially paid back."

Pearl said more than 6,686 victims are being repaid for suffering from the crimes committed by the two people.

Meanwhile, Ivan Cepeda, a spokesman for the victims, told Xinhua that even though the sentence "does not accord with the proportion of the damage (the two people) causes", the sentence is compatible with the Justice and Peace Law.

The AUC negotiated with the government on the group's demobilization between 2002 and 2006. But many of its members recently returned to their old profession and formed drug trafficking gangs.

Source: Xinhua


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