Former president Uribe’s security chief arrested over paramilitary killings

The ex-security chief to Colombia’s former president Álvaro Uribe has been arrested over allegations of forced disappearances and collusion with paramilitaries during the 2000s.

General Mauricio Santoyo had been serving a sentence in the United States following a conviction for drugs trafficking but was returned to Colombia to give evidence over state collusion with paramilitary groups.

In 2003, Santoyo was convicted of spying on human rights groups in Colombia and fired from the army. However, three years later Uribe appointed him to head the presidential security detail. Uribe was president of Colombia from 2002 to 2010. State atrocities escalated under his governance.

Paramilitary leaders currently imprisoned in the United States have accused Santoyo of working with them to target human rights activists and other people. Among the murders for which he is being investigated are those of Angel Jose Quintero and Claudia Patricia Monsalve of the Association of Family Members of Disappeared Detainees.

State-backed paramilitaries committed the vast majority of human rights abuses and atrocities in Colombia’s armed conflict. Several politicians and military officials have been convicted of colluding with them.