[Marxism] A hell of a priest

Louis Proyect 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 
to prosecutors.

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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