17 November 2008

'Uribe Ordered El Aro Massacre'

  • A former paramilitary boss says the current Colombian President ordered a 1997 massacre
  • Another says the army supplied the logistics
Francisco Enrique Villalba, a former paramilitary boss in Antioquia claimed before the Comisión de Acusaciones de la Cámara [a Colombian legislative commission] that it was the President of the Republic who had ordered the massacre of ‘El Aro’ in 1997. [More information on it at Wikipedia]

“The order was given for eight kidnap victims… he explained the kidnapping of Mario, Uribe’s cousin… the President personally gave me the order at that time in the year ’97 to commit that massacre,” claimed the now detained boss of the AUC [United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia, a Right-wing death squad now supposedly demobilised].

But Villalba Hernández said that the President decorated him, without providing details of how the award had been given.

The prisoner presented himself this Wednesday (12 November) before the Comisión to testify in the prosecution by this legislative body of the known massacre.

Francisco Enrique Villalba Hernández is the only one detained for that violent episode, where he himself confessed to having been the head of a group of 22 armed robbers who perpetrated the massacre of El Aro and later that of La Balsita.

He first appeared on 15 February and maintained that he handed himself over to the CTI [an investigative agency] in February 1998 to inform of those planning the killings of Eduardo Umaña, Jesús María Valle [human rights defenders] and Jaime Garzón [journalist and political satirist].

He claimed that Santiago Uribe [the President’s brother] was known to the organisation because he supported an AUC bloc in Santa Rosa de Osos at a time when his brother [the current President] was governor of Antioquia. In his declaration he provided details about the supposed plan to assassinate Jesús María Valle.

He returned on 15 May to broaden his declaration and gave details about the massacre of El Aro, speaking of the supposed meetings between Carlos Castaño, Salvatore Mancuso [AUC bosses] and the Uribe brothers.

The last time he made it [a declaration] was on 12 June and maintained that there were recordings and photographs of the meetings among the AUC, government functionaries, soldiers and policemen.

Francisco Enrique Villalba Hernández is condemned to 33 years and four months in prison for the El Aro massacres and 37 for the massacre of La Balsita.

Update: Mancuso said from a U.S. prison that Castaño had told him that “the logistics” for the El Aro massacre was supplied by the then commander of the Fourth Army Brigade, General Ospina… now in retirement. He said his organisation “worked in tandem” with the police and the army… if 10,000 bullets were reported used against the guerrillas, it was because only a thousand were used and 9,000 given to the paramilitaries.

Mancuso said he met the former secretary of the Antioquia government, Pedro Juan Moreno, several times between 1995 and 1997 when [President] Uribe was governor. Moreno died in an air accident in February 2006.

Source: El Espectador
The Agencia Prensa Rural of Colombia has also reported this.

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