Court annuls reparation for victims of ´Don Antonio´

The Supreme Court annulled a part of the reparation for victims of ´Don Antonio, ´ordering the inclusion of victims who had previously been left out. Its stance against the former paramilitary boss, however, remained firm.

Édgar Ignacio Fierro was an Army Captain. Photo: Semana  

The Penal Division of the Supreme Court, in an appellate level decision, annulled partially the reparation for victims of former paramilitary boss Édgar Fierro Flórez, alias ´Don Antonio,´ upon considering that their rights were at risk.

According to the Court, a new reparations process will be carried out that includes the petitions of victims who were not included in the Dec. 7 ruling by the Superior Court of Bogotá. The compensation of some victims will also be modified.  

Although the decision confirms the 8-year jail sentence, the maximum alternative sentence under Justicia y Paz, against the former boss of the front “José Pablo Días” of Bloque Norte of the AUC, it also provides for the implementation of collective reparations for victims of the paramilitary structure.

According to the previous ruling, in addition to the collective reparation measures outlined in the first ruling, the Atlántico authorities should facilitate “dialogues addressing the protection of local citizens, the establishment of a Human Rights Committee at the Universidad del Atlántico, the implementation of a social and community leadership program in the affected municipalities, the creation of a departmental cultural strategy of legality and a program of psycho-social care aimed at promoting and fostering practices that allow for collective assistance.”

The sentence ratified by the Court also includes Andrés Mauricio Torres León, alias Z1, former patrolman of the front ´Mártires del Cesar´ of Bloque Norte of the AUC, led by Rodrigo Tovar Pupo, alias ´Jorge 40,´ who will serve the alternative sentence of 8 years in prison, along with Fierro.

On December 7, 2011 the Superior Court of Bogotá sentenced Édgar Ignacio Fierro, alias ´Don Antonio,´ to 8 years in prison for homicides, displacements, conscription and theft. Fierro was convicted for his place in the front´s chain of command in 170 instances, including 128 homicides committed by men under his direction.

Other crimes linked to Fierro involve conspiracy and cases of displacement, torture, conscription, kidnapping, theft, along with one case of violent sexual intercourse.

´Don Antonio´ would have to spend 40 years in prison, but his participation in Justicia y Paz allowed for the alternative sentence of 8 years, as long as he continues working with the process of demobilization and reparation for paramilitary victims.

Victim Reparation

According to the stipulations of the Superior Court of Bogotá, each of ´Don Antonio´s victims would be compensated with amounts ranging from 30 times the minimum wage to 100 times the minimum wage for direct victims of homicide.

Regarding measures of collective reparation, the Court has ordered the creation of a pedestrian walkway with plaques with the names of victims who were murdered, in each of the affected cities. This is expected to be arranged by local governments, the CNRR and Acción Social, and work should begin a year after the case is decided.

On the subject of symbolic reparation, the Court ordered the following: that authorities ensure the safe return of victims to their land, if they choose to do so; that departmental secretaries set up workshops to evaluate the physical and psychological conditions of victims and provide free care for as long as necessary; and that Acción Social designs and implements a support program for the affected populations, addressing victims in a collective and individual manner.  

The Court also stressed the importance of disseminating the truth of what happened through a process including a public event in which the accused acknowlede and apologize for their crimes.

Finally, the Court ordered the publication of the investigation of the Public Prosecutor´s office documenting the origin, consolidation and actions of the AUC in the states of Atlántico, Magdalena and Cesar, through a medium of wide circulation.

During the proceedings of Justicia y Paz, the Bloque Norte of the AUC has been held responsible for 15,700 homicides, the disappearance of 2,100 people and the displacement of 81,700, 341 massacres, and 410 instances of the forced conscription of minors, a total amounting to 111,000 victims.