SEMANA, June 4, 2020–noticias-hoy/676297

(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

The former paramilitary chieftain has now served his sentence in the United States and hoped to be admitted to the Jurisdiction for Peace. The justices refused his application because he was not a financer but rather a physical combatant of the AUC.

The ex-commander of the paramilitaries, Salvatore Mancuso, was hoping to return to Colombia and to be accepted by the Special Jurisdiction for Peace, JEP. However, the justices just closed that door for the reason that, contrary to his argument that he had been a financer of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, in reality he was an ordinary combatant and, for that reason, there would be no place for him in the JEP.

Mancuso’s petition for submission was rejected by the Recognition of Truth and Responsibility Branch of the JEP. Mancuso had requested admission as a “third party civilian collaborator or financer of the paramilitaries between 1989 and 1997, before he became part of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC),” the organization of which he became the top commander.

The Recognition Branch, by means of Order No. 90, concluded that his role in that period was the role of a “physical member of the criminal organization, carrying out a continuous function of combat.” In his application Mancuso did not demonstrate that his conduct was that of a civilian third party who financed or collaborated with an illegal armed group, but rather, on the contrary, it evidenced his direct participation in the hostilities by exercising a continuous function of combat.

In order to reach that conclusion, the Recognition Branch reviewed not only Mancuso’s application, but it also examined the cases in which he was charged in the ordinary justice system, in the Peace and Justice jurisdiction (created for submission by the paramilitaries), and also the extrajudicial investigations, such as by the National Center for Historical Memory.

All of these records confirm that his participation in the internal armed conflict between 1989 and 1997 constituted what in International Humanitarian Law is called a “continuous function of combat”, which demonstrates his direct participation in the hostilities.

For the JEP, it was clear that Mancuso patrolled with an armed group made up not only of members of the Colombian Army, but also of former guerrillas and other combatants; that he carried long guns and took direct and effective part in armed actions intended to defeat insurgents and not just to obtain information. The justices concluded that “this participation was not sporadic, but rather, on the contrary, he had a permanent vocation and increased sophistication with the passage of time.”

As a result, it was not about the conduct of a civilian third party, but rather it was the conduct of a paramilitary combatant, and this Branch of the JEP has no jurisdiction over the crimes committed by Mancuso Gómez.

Mancuso’s defense had argued that he was an Army informant in 1989 and collaborated with the Army. They also described how Army Major Walter Fratini Lobacio, Commander of the counter-guerrilla Battalion of the Army’s 9th Brigade, had given him military training, and how Mancuso had taken part in illegal counter-insurgent patrols with Frantini and with soldiers and former guerrillas.

According to Mancuso’s application, when Fratini died, Mancuso took over the command of this special group. In 1994, he met the brothers Fidel and Carlos Castaño Gil, commanders of the Campesino Self-Defense Forces of Córdoba and Urabá (ACCU), and he joined them.

SEMANA contacted criminal lawyer Jaime Paredes, Mancuso’s defense attorney, who stated that he expected to receive the complete decision, but he was ready to announce that he intended to appeal. “We will wait until we are notified and receive the complete decision, but I can tell you right now that we will appeal.” The JEP Tribunal will consider the appeal and decide whether the door will remain closed to Mancuso.

Mancuso is staying in a temporary cell, awaiting his embarkation for return to Colombia.

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