After several missions in Colombia, and in conjunction with the Colombian NGO Fundación Comité de Solidaridad con los Presos Políticos, TRIAL International managed to trace a former member of a Colombian paramilitary group called United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), who may have been involved in the execution of numerous students and lecturers at the University of Barranquilla. Indeed, C. P. might have used his position as a trade unionist at the university to indicate “military targets” to AUC’s killers. Based on the considerable amount of evidence gathered, a criminal report was filed in January 2013, as was a criminal complaint on behalf of a woman and the son of a university lecturer murdered in front of their very eyes.
Based on these, a criminal investigation was opened by the Swiss Federal Prosecutor. These proceedings could have led to the first judgment in respect of war crimes for a member of a paramilitary group outside Colombia. However, the case was closed unexpectedly following the death of the accused.
This precedent nevertheless injected renewed impetus into the investigation in Colombia, which led to several arrests and arrest warrants.