The deportation to Colombia of former paramilitary chief Jorge 40 revives the hope of the victims | International

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Former paramilitary chief Rodrigo Tovar Pupo (c), upon his arrival at the bunker at the Prosecutor's Office this Monday in Bogotá.Colombia / EFE Prosecutor's Office

Rodrigo Tovar Pupo, alias Jorge 40, one of the most bloodthirsty former paramilitary chiefs on the Caribbean coast, has returned to Colombia after twelve years of paying a sentence for drug trafficking in a prison in the United States. His deportation was one of the most anticipated along with that of Salvatore Mancuso, the latter still complicated by legal errors committed by the Colombian authorities.

The landing of the former paramilitary chief was confirmed by the Peace Commissioner, Miguel Ceballos, through his social networks. "As we announced at the time, Rodrigo Tovar, alias Jorge 40, is already in Colombia at the disposal of the immigration and judicial authorities, and will have to answer before the justice and the victims for his pending accounts in the country," said Ceballos. .

Jorge 40 was the commander of the Northern Block of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia and has 35 arrest warrants in force, 40 security measures and 1,486 criminal investigations for massacres, displacement, torture and disappearances. Since 2008 when he was extradited together with other commanders of that group, many victims of this group have been waiting to learn the truth about their cases.

A native of Valledupar, Jorge 40 was a member of a presumed family and, according to judicial investigations, he was key to obtaining support from politicians and businessmen for his paramilitary group. In the laptop of one of his men, Édgar Fierro or alias Don Antonio, information was found on the links between the political class and the paramilitaries, which in Colombia is known as parapolitics and which led to about 50 congressmen to be convicted.

After the demobilization of the Self-Defense Forces, during the government of Álvaro Uribe, a transitional system called Justice and Peace was created in which the paramilitaries offered to tell the truth in exchange for reduced sentences. Jorge 40 managed to recognize that in 12 years in the group he participated in at least 600 crimes. However, after his extradition to the United States, he was expelled from Justicia y Paz for failing to comply with his judicial commitments. According to the Prosecutor's Office, the former paramilitary chief avoided going to 48 proceedings. “Extradition,” Magistrate Gustavo Roa said at the time, “is not a reason for the postulate not to comply with the requirements contemplated in the law of justice and peace in order to contribute to clarifying the truth and to carry out the reparation processes to which victims have rights ”.

That is why now the former paramilitary chief is facing ordinary justice and his return represents hope for the victims. "He will be deprived of his liberty in one of the prisons of the National Penitentiary Institute (INPEC)," said Javier Sarmiento, the minister in charge of Justice, although he did not reveal which prison he was transferred to.

A few months ago, the appointment of Jorge Tovar, son of the former paramilitary chief, who was hired as coordinator of the group of victims in Iván Duque's Ministry of the Interior, caused controversy. At the time, Minister Alicia Arango defended the hiring of the young man. “He has not committed crimes and has no problem with justice. It is not his fault that his father was wrong, ”said Arango. Four months later, the son of George 40 resigned from office.

Colombia awaits the arrival of Salvatore Mancuso soon, who has requested to be deported to Italy, where he has nationality and not to Bogotá; as well as that of other former paramilitary chiefs such as Hernán Giraldo and Miguel Ángel Mejía Múnera.

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