EL ESPECTADOR, December 15, 2021

(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

The man who was the maximum leader of the Clan del Golfo was summoned to testify on December 20 and 21 in the Urabá Macrocase. That does not mean that he will be admitted to the special justice system, or that his extradition to the United States will be halted.

Dairo Antonio Úsuga, known as Otoniel, has been summoned to testify to the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) about the violence in the Urabá region, to which he was both a witness and a protagonist. The Justice in charge of the Macrocase on that part of the country in the Recognition of the Truth Branch, Nadiezhda Henríquez, believes that the  maximum leader of the Clan del Golfo’s moving around in the various armed groups could contribute to the clarification of a number of events in the conflict. That doesn’t mean that the former paramilitary would be admitted to the system created by the Peace Agreement with the FARC.

The order summoning Otoniel reads as follows: “The testimony of Sr. Dairo Antonio Úsuga David is pertinent, as he was an eyewitness to events that took place in the context of the armed conflict in the Urabá region. His testimony will be useful in contrasting the various accounts of the violent events in the Urabá region and the dispatch reports by victims’ organizations, government agencies, voluntary testimony, and other testimony already received.”

The order also states that the testimony “is necessary because, having been a witness, a person that was present in the Urabá region, he has first hand knowledge of events, so that his statements will contribute to their full clarification.” The taking of evidence was scheduled for December 20 and 21, and coordinated with the Attorney General’s Office, which has custody of Otoniel at this time. The former paramilitary’s defense attorney will also be present, as well as representatives of the Inspector General’s Office, and three officials of the office of Justice Henríquez.

At the same time, officials will try to have victims in the Urabá Macrocase be present virtually. Their numbers have now reached 39,833. In fact, it was a group of accredited victims that requested Otoniel’s testimony. But this does not mean investigations by the ordinary criminal justice system against the man who was the maximum leader of the Clan del Golfo will be halted; nor is it contemplated that he will be admitted to the Special Jurisdiction for Peace, or that his extradition will be delayed. The process of sending him to the United States to be tried for drug trafficking is already under way.

Otoniel was captured last October 23, right in Urabá. The United States had offered a reward of up to $18,000 million pesos (roughly USD $4,448,000) for information that could lead to his being arrested and charged. After a military operation and intelligence operations lasting more than five years, he was apprehended and taken to Bogotá. In addition to the JEP, the ordinary criminal justice system has sought the testimony of the maximum leader of the Clan del Golfo. “This gentleman has some outstanding debts with Colombia. In that connection, I plan to put together a technical team in the Attorney General’s Office, a group of prosecutors charged with getting to the bottom of Sr. Otoniel’s situation,” said Attorney General Francisco Barbosa in October. Although he started his criminal career with the EPL guerrillas in 1987, he did not demobilize when that group re-entered civilian life and, on the contrary, he jumped to the Self-Defense Forces of Córdoba and Urabá (Accu in Spanish) and later to the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC). After the peace process with which that group demobilized, Otoniel joined Don Mario and others to put together a narcoparamilitary organization that was first called “Los Urabeños”, later “Los Úsuga”, and most recently, the Clan del Golfo.   

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