[Marxism] A hell of a priest
lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Feb 1 01:38:06 MST 2014
Associated Press in Bogotá, Jan. 31, 2014
Catholic priest who ran right-wing death squad arrested in Colombia
The Rev Oscar Albeiro Ortiz was convicted in absentia last year for
organising ruthless militia made up of former paramilitaries
Colombian officials have announced the capture of a fugitive Catholic
priest who was convicted in absentia last year of organising a killer
far-right militia made up of members of a dismantled paramilitary bloc.
For nearly a decade from 2003, the Rev Oscar Albeiro Ortiz formed and
ran an organisation engaged in murder, extortion and forced
displacement, according to his sentencing document.
From his pulpit in San Antonio de Prado, a village near Medellín, Ortiz
had accompanied members of the paramilitary bloc, then recruited them
after the bloc was ostensibly disbanded under a peace pact brokered by
the government of then-president Alvaro Uribe.
Critics of that "peace process" point to cases such as that of Ortiz as
evidence that it was a sham.
Ortiz was arrested in 2010 but cleared by a lower court and continued to
maintain that he was innocent.
But he was later retried and convicted last August of criminal
conspiracy and sentenced to 19 years in prison. He was rearrested on
Thursday night in the town of La Virginia in Risaralda state.
His sentence, a copy of which the Associated Press obtained, says
investigators using wiretaps had overheard Ortiz fingering as leftist
rebels people who later turned up murdered.
The sentence said that people beaten or driven from their homes by
paramilitary henchmen of Ortiz were told they were being punished "for
disobeying the orders of the priest".
One witness quoted in the sentence described Ortiz "as a person of two
faces: the good angel and the bad angel" and described seeing him late
at night drinking with death squad members.
When Ortiz announced to his faithful at church one Sunday that some
people would be coming to protect them, the witness said, he was
referring to the arrival of paramilitaries who formerly belonged to the
Cacique Nutibara bloc, which had killed hundreds of people.
The so-called paramilitaries, organised under the umbrella of the United
Self-Defence Forces of Colombia, or AUC, committed more than 70% of the
killings in the country's nearly half-century-old dirty war, according
The AUC "demobilised" between 2003 and 2005, its leaders surrendering in
exchange for reduced sentences of up to eight years in prison if they
confessed to their crimes.
Their foes in the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia are now engaged
in peace talks with the government in Cuba.
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