Former Paramilitaries Extradited to US Insist on Their Families Leaving Colombia
By Dialogo June 19, 2009Bogotá, June 18 (EFE).- The most important former paramilitary chiefs of Colombia extradited to the United States asserted to congresswoman Piedad Córdoba the need for their families to leave the Andean country, spokesperson of the parliamentary opposition said today in Bogotá. The senator's press office reported that the former right-wing extremists warned her that they due to concerns for the safety of their families they might not be any longer able to disclose the activities and relations of the already dissolved Colombian United Self Defenses (AUC) . The legislator, who traveled to the United States to meet with the extradited former paramilitaries, received the petition during the second round of dialogue with some of them in prisons where they are confined since a year ago. During her stay of more than a week in that country, Córdoba met Salvatore Mancuso, AUC’s previous top chief, and Diego Fernando Murillo, Rodrigo Tovar, Carlos Mario Jiménez and Juan Carlos Sierra, among others. These five individuals are part of a group of fourteen former AUC commanders that were extradited to the United States three months ago, where they were prosecuted for drug trafficking, money laundering and terrorism financing. In the first instances of dialogue, the former right-wing extremists asked the legislator to intercede before the American embassy in Colombia for their families to obtain visas, allowing them to move to the United States. The petition was immediately rejected by Ambassador William Brownfield. A parliamentary source from Córdoba's team told EFE that the former paramilitary shared with her their concerns over their families’ safety and security, which are receiving more and more threats due to the paramilitaries’ testimonies and statements to the Judicial authorities. Therefore, they requested the legislator’s assistance for their families could immigrate to anther country, the spokesperson added, and this relocation abroad is one of the conditions for the former AUC commanders to offer new testimony. Córdoba has received “new information regarding the relations and activities of the paramilitary in different regions of the country. This information would only be fully disclosed on confirmation that their families are safe outside the country," stated the source. This weekend, the congresswoman will be back in Bogotá and will report on her meetings with the former paramilitaries at the Congressional sessions starting next July 20.