Published on Wednesday, 10 October 2012 14:35 Written by Countercurrents
A paramilitary leader, known by the alias Martin Llanos, confessed he took part in massacre by the far right-wing United Self Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) in Mapiripan village in 1997 in Colombia, officials say.
The number of those murdered remains unclear as many of the bodies were cut up and thrown into a nearby river.
Massacres by militias were not uncommon as they killed people suspected of supporting left-wing groups.
Llanos, whose real name is Hector German Buitrago, admitted before prosecutors his role in the killings, a statement from the Colombian Attorney General's Office said.
He had been arrested with his brother in neighboring Venezuela in February.
Llanos was the head of a unit of the AUC in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
After a bloody rivalry with another paramilitary group in the area, Llanos fled to Venezuela.
At the time of his arrest, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said Llanos had played "the leading role in one of the bloodiest wars in the Llanos Orientales region and left hundreds, I'd say thousands, of victims".
He grew up in eastern Colombia at a time when left-wing FARC rebels controlled large swathes of the area and extorted local landowners for "war contributions".
Llanos took over the leadership of a paramilitary group previously led by his father and expanded its power over much of the eastern plains in Meta province.
In July 1997, his paramilitary group moved into the village of Mapiripan and killed an undetermined number of residents, whom they suspected of supporting the FARC rebels.
Prior to this confession of massacre, a Colombian judge has ordered ex-paramilitary leader Ivan Roberto Duque, alias "Ernesto Baez," to serve a subsequent prison sentence for the kidnapping of former liberal senator Piedad Cordoba. The judge also linked Duque, also a former leader of the AUC, to the murder of journalist Jose Emeterio Rivas, and several indigenous and political leaders in the Caldas province, between October 2001 and March 2004 .
Duque, who is currently incarcerated in a maximum security prison in Itagui in the Antioquia department on separate charges, was accused of facilitating the kidnapping of high-profile Liberal Senator Cordoba in May 1999.
Cordoba's kidnapping caused popular outrage and she was released after two weeks.
The kidnapping charge was first brought against Duque on December 3, 2009. At the time, prosecutors also held him responsible for crimes of homicide, conspiracy and recruitment of minors.
A trained lawyer, Duque is a former leader of the Central Bolivar Bloc of the AUC. Duque and several of his men has formally been demobilized on December 12, 2005.
 BBC, Oct. 8, 2012, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-19879386
 Colombia Reports, “Ex-paramilitary to answer for Piedad Cordoba kidnapping”, Oct. 5, 2012, http://colombiareports.com/colombia-news/news/26375-ex-paramilitary-to-answer-for-piedad-cordoba-kidnapping.html