Members of ERPAC during their demobilization (Photo: Reuters)

Colombia’s Office of the Prosecutor General has refuted claims that more than 400 paramilitaries are eligible to be released before December 2014, saying the number is closer to 160,  Colombia’s El Colombiano newspaper reported Thursday.

On Tuesday, local media reported that more than 400 incarcerated Colombian paramilitaries were to be released before December 2014 after having served their eight year sentences as a result of submitting to Colombia’s Justice and Peace Law.

MORE: More than 400 former Colombian paramilitaries to be released from jail by December 2014

But Hector Eduardo Moreno, national director at the transitional justice department at the Prosecutor General’s Office said that most of the 400 are being denied the release because they have not met the requirements to cut their sentences, El Colombiano reported.

“False alarm”

Moreno said the number of demobilized that have met the requirements and could leave prison before December 2014 would be 160 and not 400.

“[Defaults on the legal conditions of their sentence] led to the false alarm that 400 members of the AUC and the guerrillas could leave the prison,” he said, quoted by El Colombiano.

The 2005 Justice and Peace Law gave paramilitary combatants and leaders access to fixed and dramatically reduced sentences in exchange for their weapons and full compliance with justice investigations. Those who made use of the statute would serve no more than eight years in prison, provided they divulged any knowledge they possessed of criminal activity or crimes committed against humanity to investigators.

The Prosecutor General’s Office has managed to appeal against various heads of the AUC and guerrillas leaving jail even if they have having fulfilled the minimum eight years jail time as directed by the Justice and Peace Law in 2005.

The Prosecutor General argued that some of the sentenced paramilitaries have not met their requirements regarding truth, repair, and delivery of goods, El Colombiano reported.

MORE: Former paramilitary commander sentenced to 8 years in Colombia prison

Eight years but not out

Among those receiving lower sentences are former paramilitary leader Ramon Isaza, alias “El Viejo,” who has been sentenced to a reduced eight years in a Colombian prison for crimes committed over the course of a 30-year career.

Among the 442 who would have been free come the end of the year are criminals responsible for some of the most heinous acts of Colombia’s decades-long internal conflict. The former paramilitaries are responsible for notorious massacres at the sites of Macayepo, El Salado, Mapiripan, El Caño Chengue, and Caño Jabon with a death toll that today stands at around 400,000 victims, with mass graves still being uncovered.


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