Massacres of the Poor: Eight Years Imprisonment for 4,000 Murders in Colombia

Jorge Ivan Laverde, a former Colombian paramilitary chief who confessed to ordering approximately 4,000 murders and using an oven to dispose of the bodies, was sentenced to eight years in prison.  Laverde, who turned himself in six years ago, lead of one of the fronts of the right-wing AUC militia federation’s Catatumbo Bloc.

Laverde was originally sentenced to 40 years in prison, but his sentence was then reduced as part of an amnesty law passed by the Colombian Congress 2005.  Laverde was sentenced to the maximum prison term allowable under the law governing the paramilitaries’ demobilization.

While Laverde claims that he ordered some 4,000 killings, he has also confessed to personally carrying out 100 of those murders.

The 2005 Peace and Justice Law was passed to regulate the paramilitary fighters’ reinsertion into society.  Former AUC members face a maximum of eight years in prison if convicted of any of the egregious crimes, which they are accused of, including kidnappings, murders and torture.  The law also shields former AUC members from extradition to the United States so long as they cooperate with Colombian authorities.

The AUC had demobilized 31,000 fighters between the end of 2003 and mid-2006 as part of a peace process with then-President Alvaro Uribe.  However, new members have emerged, bringing the group’s numbers somewhere in the range of 4,000-10,000 fighters.  The AUC was originally founded to battle leftist rebels; however, it deteriorated into a “loose association of drug-dealing death squads.”

It cannot be doubted that the aim of the amnesty law was to promote the demobilization of paramilitary groups through promises of relatively insignificant prison sentences; however, the notion of an eight year prison sentence for a man thought to have participated in 4,000 killings is assured to bring public outcry.

December 4th, 2010

Patrick Vanderpool
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

Bogota, Colombia


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