Colombia nabs militiaman charged with 2,500 killings

Last Updated: Wednesday, February 17, 2010 - 12:02

Bogota: A fugitive Colombian militia commander accused of involvement in some 2,500 murders has been arrested, the Attorney General`s Office said.

Arnolfo Santamaria Galindo, who formerly led a paramilitary unit in the southern province of Putumayo, was arrested in the Bogota suburb of Soacha, prosecutor Luis Gonzalez told the media.

Roughly 32,000 members of the AUC militia federation demobilised between 2003 and 2006 as part of a peace process with the government of President Alvaro Uribe, but Santamaria, like many paramilitaries, declined to lay down his arms.

Gonzalez said Santamaria`s faction is blamed for some 5,000 killings and that the former warlord faces charges in connection with 2,500 deaths in Putumayo, a mainly jungle province bordering Ecuador and Peru.

Santamaria spent his time in Soacha peddling cell phones and styling himself as a shaman, Caracol television said.
The AG office "has evidence" that Santamaria took part in the February 2005 assassination of a leader in the town of La Dorada, Gonzalez said.
Jose Hipolito Hurtado, who was president of the town`s merchant association, was slain after he led protests against paramilitary violence, the prosecutor said.


First Published: Wednesday, February 17, 2010 - 12:02

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