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A Colombian court has approved the conditional release of former paramilitary leader Salvatore Mancuso, his defense team confirmed on Saturday. 

Mancuso, previously a top commander of the paramilitary United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), had returned to Colombia in February after completing a sentence in the United States for drug trafficking.


The release was sanctioned by Bogota’s high court, with the decision dated May 10. Mancuso had been held at La Picota prison on the outskirts of the capital since his extradition. His defense lawyers have publicized a copy of the court’s ruling, confirming his eligibility for conditional release despite the grave accusations he faces in Colombia, including war crimes and human rights violations.

Digging Deeper:
The AUC, led by Mancuso until its disbandment, was the primary paramilitary group during Colombia’s protracted internal conflict. This conflict spanned over six decades, resulting in over 260,000 deaths and displacing millions. The AUC was notorious for its brutal tactics, which included massacres and involvement in narcotics trafficking.

Paramilitary groups such as the AUC emerged in the 1980s, supported by local farmers and landowners who aimed to protect themselves from insurgent guerrilla groups in the absence of state security forces. These groups, however, devolved into criminal organizations implicated in a range of illicit activities, including drug trafficking, massacres, and sexual violence.


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