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Colombian surrenders in alleged plotting to kill Venezuela’s Chavez

Deutsche Presse Agentur

Bogota- A Colombian right-wing paramilitary leader accused of plotting to kill Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez surrendered to authorities in northern Colombia. The speaker of the Colombian Congress, Dilian Francisca Toro, confirmed that Rodrigo Tovar, known as “Jorge 40,” remains in custody at a police station in the town of Valledupar.

Toro led a delegation that met the paramilitary chief in the province of Cesar, which borders Venezuela. Tovar, a former leader of the Northern Bloc of the United Self-Defence Groups of Colombia (AUC), turned himself in with the mediation of several parliamentarians.

Tovar is being investigated by Venezuelan and Colombian justice officials for allegedly plotting with members of Colombia’s secret service DAS to destabilize the Venezuelan government and kill Chavez.

The paramilitary leader is linked to some of the worst killings in Colombia. The United States has sought his extradition to face drug trafficking charges and is also accused of coercing voters into favouring his preferred candidates for Congress.

Tovar led the Northern Block of the AUC, which was active in the provinces of Cesar, Magdalena and Guajira (north). He demobilized in March with 2,545 other AUC fighters.

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe began negotiating with in 2004 with the AUC, leading to the demobilization of around 30,650 members. One more paramilitary squad remains.

Tovar turned himself in after Uribe’s August 17 order that several paramilitary leaders in the northeastern town of La Ceja be jailed, to compel their compliance with their commitments made in negotiations with the government.

Wearing sunglasses and carrying a football trophy he won in a tournament of demobilized paramilitaries, Tovar arrived in Valledupar and was greeted with fireworks and signs in which his former comrades in arms thanked him for his efforts to combat left-wing guerrillas, who have waged a 40-year civil war in Colombia.

In May 2004, about 100 Colombian paramilitary members were captured near Caracas and accused of plotting to kill Chavez.

In July 2005, there was an alleged meeting at DAS headquarters among DAS chief Jorge Noguera, dismissed three months later, current Venezuelan opposition leader Manuel Rosales, former Venezuelan coup leader Pedro Carmona, AUC members and others plotting against Chavez. Tovar was linked to the plot.

2006 DPA – Deutsche Presse-Agenteur


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