The appeals chamber of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) has granted what appears to be the last chance for former paramilitary leaders Salvatore Mancuso and Rodrigo Tovar Pupo, alias ‘Jorge 40’, to be able to submit to this special mechanism arising from the 2016 peace accords.
The JEP has accepted that both participate in a new hearing in which they must demonstrate the alleged links they have assured they maintained with agents of the security forces and the Army at different stages of the armed conflict, which will allow them to enter as civilian third parties.
While the JEP does not have direct jurisdiction over paramilitaries, in these two cases the appellate section holds that when a paramilitary commander puts the armed group he leads at the service of law enforcement to commit crimes he can be welcomed as a civilian third party collaborator or financier.
Mancuso and ‘Jorge 40’ must attend a single hearing, with the presence of the victims and the Attorney General’s Office, in which they must tell the truth, cite names and present concrete evidence about their relationship with military and other law enforcement officials to commit crimes against the civilian population.
After several failed judicial attempts, Mancuso and ‘Jorge 40’, two of the most bloodthirsty living paramilitary leaders of the conflict, have again another chance before the JEP. The former is in a US prison and fears extradition, while the latter is serving a sentence in Colombia.
Mancuso, also known as ‘Triple Zero’, has admitted having been involved in at least 300 murders, among which were the victims of the El Aro massacre, which resulted in a 40-year prison sentence that he never served for joining the Justice and Peace Law mechanism, promoted by former President Alvaro Uribe to demobilize paramilitaries.
In turn, he has two open judicial processes in Colombia for his responsibility in more than 600 homicides, the forced displacement of almost 1,000 people and more than thirty forced disappearances.
For his part, ‘Jorge 40’ has been in a Colombian prison since 2020, when he arrived from the United States after serving a twelve-year sentence for drug trafficking. He was recently sentenced to 40 years for a double murder in 1999.
Like Mancuso, he also joined Uribe’s demobilization policy, acknowledging his involvement in more than 1,400 crimes, including 300 massacres, for which he will now have to answer if he fails to grab hold of the JEP.