As part of its 646 page ruling concerning former paramilitaries, the Superior Tribunal of Justice and Peace in Medellin, Colombia said that the financiers of their operations must also be prosecuted, Colombian newspaper El Tiempo reported Saturday.
The Colombian Public Prosecutor said that it is investigating 12,000 business people for their alleged involvement in paramilitary activity in the country.
"The paramilitaries operated with the aim of exercising territorial control at any cost, violently imposing a new social order, and defending private property by fire and sword, with the support of the military and ranchers," read the ruling.
The Colombian court questioned why there had been little progress with investigations concerning the financial backers of the United Self-defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), asking that certain prosecutors be investigated for failure to carry out their duties.
According to El Tiempo, the court stated that like the armed paramilitaries, there are business people who should also “demobilize” and submit themselves to the special system of justice established to deal with the threat of paramilitaries.
Salvatore Mancuso, the infamous head of the North bloc of the AUC who is currently facing a judicial process in the United States, testified that he held meetings with business people who committed to funding the activities of paramilitaries, knowing full well it was illegal.
In its ruling the tribunal also made mention of illegal activities by some landowners that went beyond merely the collaboration or financing of paramilitary groups, who are widely recognized as being responsible for the majority of atrocities committed during the last 20 years of Colombia’s civil war.