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Last Updated: Saturday, 25 August 2007, 05:04 GMT 06:04 UK
Colombia warlord loses benefits
United Self Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC)
Jimenez commanded the United Self Defence Force of Colombia
A leading Colombian paramilitary leader has been stripped of his preferential prison treatment after he allegedly broke the terms of a peace agreement.

The authorities said they had evidence that Carlos Jimenez, also known as Macaco, was continuing to smuggle drugs and run a criminal empire from prison.

He has been transferred to Colombia's most secure prison, Combita, and will be tried as an ordinary criminal.

Jimenez could also be extradited to the US although no request has been made.

The move means Jimenez loses the benefits given to demobilised paramilitaries, including shorter sentences.

Atrocities

Jimenez is the first jailed "warlord" to lose benefits agreed under a 2003 peace deal which led paramilitary leaders to surrender and demobilise 31,000 of their men in exchange for reduced jail terms and extradition protection.

The paramilitaries were created to combat rebel armies but evolved into drug-trafficking cartels accused of committing some of the country's worst atrocities.

"Those who continue to commit crimes will face the same fate," Defence Minister Juan Manuel Santos said.

He added: "Those who are fulfilling their commitment and are not involved in crime have nothing to fear."

Meanwhile another paramilitary leader, Diego Fernando Murillo, also known as Don Berna, has also been transferred to Combita, while the government investigates his activities while in prison near Medellin.

Jimenez commanded what is thought to be Colombia's largest paramilitary group, the United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC).

In February 2006, 2,500 fighters of the Central Bolivar Bloc - which is part of the AUC - surrendered their weapons under the ongoing efforts to broker peace in the country.




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