Who is Salvatore Mancuso a former paramilitary extradited from the

Who is Salvatore Mancuso, a former paramilitary extradited from the US who was appointed peace manager?

One of the most notorious paramilitary leaders has returned to Colombia. Salvatore Mancuso, extradited from the US, will work with the Colombian state as a peace manager as part of a controversial appointment by President Gustavo Petro. The leader of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia will carry out his role under temporary freedom.

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Who is Salvatore Mancuso?

Salvatore Mancuso, born on August 17, 1964 into a wealthy family in Montería, did not complete his university education in the Colombian country. However, a profile from the Colombian prosecutor's office shows that he studied English at the University of Pittsburgh.

Likewise, Mancuso distinguished himself as a wealthy cattle breeder in the Córdoba area. However, he owed his rise not to his business but rather to his involvement in armed activities.

Initially, Mancuso joined the Peasants' Self-Defense Forces of Córdoba and Urabá (ACCU) as second in command. Later, when this paramilitary group merged with the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), the brothers Vicente and Carlos Castaño appointed him Chief of the General Staff.

According to the National Center for Historical Memory's final report on the armed conflict, the groups that make up the AUC were responsible for 47% of the deaths and missing persons of the armed conflict in Colombia and are considered the most violent armed actors in the country.

What crimes is Salvatore Mancuso accused of?

In April 2023, Salvatore Mancuso was accused of being involved in 4,071 crimes affecting 6,552 people in departments such as Antioquia, Bolívar, Cesar, Córdoba, La Guajira, Magdalena, Santander and Sucre. The Bogotá Supreme Court linked Mancuso to 1,153 crimes in Bolívar, Sucre and Córdoba, including 229 murders, 108 enforced disappearances and 690 cases of forced displacement. He is also accused of the massacres in El Aro, La Granja and Pichilín.

In addition to these crimes, a justice and peace court accused him of torture of a protected person, simple kidnapping, violent carnal access to a protected person, acts of terrorism, destruction and appropriation of protected property, rape of another person's room, threats and violent sexual acts of a protected person, forced prostitution, inhumane and degrading treatment, biological experimentation on a protected person, abortion without consent and kidnapping for ransom.

Why was Mancuso extradited to the United States?

Mancuso was described by the American justice system as one of the most “notorious” drug traffickers. He was extradited on May 13, 2008, along with 13 other high-ranking members of the self-defense groups accused of the same crimes. He was accused of exploiting his position to import more than 100,000 kilograms of cocaine into the United States and other countries. In June 2015, a US court sentenced him to 190 months in prison.

After his sentence expired in 2020, Mancuso requested deportation to Italy through his lawyers. However, the trial did not go as expected and he remained in federal custody at a detention center for undocumented immigrants in the state of Georgia.

Why was Mancuso appointed peace manager?

“The peace process between the Uribe government and the paramilitaries is not yet complete, the whole truth is not yet known, the farms partially handed over have been lost in the hands of the state and have been re-exploited to new groups that inherit paramilitarism, many entities .” Many victims have not yet been found. In order to complete the process and achieve complete peace, I have decided to appoint Salvatore Mancuso as Peace Manager,” Gustavo Petro announced on his X account (formerly Twitter) on June 23, 2023.

The figure of the peace manager is a name used by the Petro government to refer to people who can contribute to processes of dialogue, truth-clarification and the dynamics of humanization of the armed conflict in the context of overall peace policy.

Who is Salvatore Mancuso a former paramilitary extradited from the “I come to continue my commitment to the victims,” Mancuso said in a statement. Photo: JEP

Mancuso was granted temporary freedom

After returning to Colombia, Salvatore Mancuso was taken to La Picota prison in Bogotá to await trial. Judge Luz Marina Zamora decided to grant him temporary freedom at the session of the Special Justice and Peace Court. “The convicted Salvatore Mancuso Gómez is granted conditional freedom for a period of four years,” the judge said.