He promised to identify other members of Congress who were connected with the paramilitaries between 2002 and 2010.

El Tiempo, April 30, 2019

(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

The Branch for Definition of Legal Status of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) has accepted the application for submission to the JEP by ex-Congressman David Char Navas, who had been prosecuted by the Supreme Court of Justice for “parapolitica”.

Thus the political leader of Atlántico Province, who is being held in pretrial detention, has become the first government official accepted by the JEP.  He is charged with the crimes of aggravated criminal conspiracy—for his alleged relationship with paramilitary groups—and with manufacturing, trafficking, and carrying for private use firearms and weapons belonging to the Armed Forces.

Char Navas has promised to identify to the transitional justice system other members of Congress who aided the armed and political actions of the paramilitaries between 2002 and 2010, and of whose paramilitary connections the regular legal system has not yet been made aware.

In addition to that, Char Navas has promised to tell the truth about the precise participation he himself carried out, as well as other government officials and businessmen, in the financing and expansion of the activities of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC).

The decision to accept his submission was taken after the Appellate Section revoked what had been decided in the first instance by the Definition Branch. It had rejected his submission to the jurisdiction of the JEP on May 7, 2018.

Specifically, the commitments that Char made are related to the acts he carried out while he was a Representative in the House of Representatives, as well as later when he was a Senator, to favor and defend the interests and goals of the AUC between 2002 and up to October 29, 2008, the date on which he resigned. He acted especially to cover up and legitimize the illegal activities of the Northern Bloc.

He also knew who was responsible for, as well as the circumstances of, the murder of alias Capulina, a man who was very close to the paramilitary commander Don Berna, and who carried out collections and extortions as ordered by his chief, and contrary to Char’s responsibilities.

According to the proceedings in the Supreme Court, Char had furnished vehicles, money and munitions to the José Pablo Díaz Front, attached the Northern Bloc of the AUC. Because of that, before the JEP, he will also have to identify the vehicles, the manner in which they were furnished, other quantities of money and munitions that he provided and “gather the supporting evidence that others appearing can provide so as to strengthen his contribution to the truth and to other purposes of the System.”

The victims’ reparation plan submitted by Char

Char Navas, in order to be accepted by the JEP, presented the creation of an autonomous organization to hold assets through a fiduciary as his plan for reparation. Initially its beneficiary would be the JEP or an organization of victims, to benefit selected victims.

The resources of that fund would be used to purchase plots of land, to build a school, for technical assistance, and for the hiring of three teachers. It would also be for marketing the region’s products, including funds for four months and administrative costs for a period of three years, as well as a budget of 390,769,529 pesos (about USD 130,250).

And for symbolic reparation, Char’s plan contemplates “carrying out an act of contrition at the national level” and asking pardon for what was done, to include traveling to all of the municipalities in Atlántico Province that had been affected by the Northern Bloc of the AUC.

To make sure that there would be no repetition of such activities, Char would also commit to never seeking another public office.

The Definition of Legal Status Branch of the JEP found that “the proposed regime of conditionality presented by Char Navas, with necessary revisions carried out, complies with the conditions for access to the JEP because it contains concrete proposals for providing the truth, for unconnected reparation, and for no repetition, which will be sufficient to undertake proceedings in the jurisdiction.”

With this decision, the Acknowledgement of the Truth Branch of the JEP, including the contents of his file in the Special Branch for Investigation and First Instance of the Supreme Court of Justice, will have to judge the truth of what is being related by the ex-Congressman.

Char’s version will have to be verified on the basis of reports received by the Admitting to the Truth Branch, the evidence ordered by that  Branch, along with other evidence.

In addition to that, in 30 days Char will have to present the Commission with an Explanation of the Truth, “so that he presents his version and contributes to the historical understanding of paramilitarism in the northern part of the country.”

Besides Char Navas, there is a list of 37 former officials whose submissions are being studied by the JEP. Some of them, also charged with “parapolitica”, have requested entrance into the special process. In total those awaiting a decision include ten ex-Congressmen, five ex-governors, 11 ex-mayors, seven ex-Council Member, and three ex-Clerks.

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