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Joanne98 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-28-08 12:01 PM
Original message
Laptop computers become evidence in Colombia
Source: AP

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) Laptop computers have become treasure troves of evidence for Colombian investigators probing crimes committed by far-right militias and leftist rebels.

So many Colombians were dismayed to learn that prison authorities didn't immediately secure laptops and cell phones belonging to most of the 14 paramilitary warlords who were yanked from cells on May 12 and extradited to the United States to stand trial for drug trafficking.

The mishandled evidence has become a national scandal, and the prisons director only made matters worse when he told Colombia's leading newspaper that he had no way of preventing the warlords from continuing to lead criminal networks from their cells.

That alleged criminal activity was the reason President Alvaro Uribe gave for ordering the warlords' extradition in a midnight operation that surprised even the prosecutors who have been documenting crimes by both sides in Colombia's civil conflict.

But prisons director Eduardo Morales said he received no order from superiors to preserve evidence in the warlords' prison cells.

Now, embarrassed authorities are pointing fingers over the laptops and cell phones, which analysts and columnists speculate could have contained data incriminating not just the warlords but also prominent politicians and businessmen.

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heliarc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-28-08 12:41 PM
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1. Funny how laptops are given to Interpol to incriminate Chavez
but when the druglords are in question... no laptops to be found...
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gbscar Donating Member (283 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-28-08 01:44 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. Actually,some are missing, but not all, which isn't the same thing n/t
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AlphaCentauri Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-29-08 10:26 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. they are striped and useless
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AP Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-30-08 08:09 AM
Response to Original message
4. FAIR did a report on this story. There was one laptop used as evidence recently
Edited on Fri May-30-08 08:09 AM by AP
in a major trial and the chain of custody for that laptop was very clear from arrest to trial. These other laptops are disappearing into the hands of people for hours without oversight.

It sounds like Colombians got convinced of their credibility through the first trial, and then, after that, the government has tried really hard to find laptops so they can repeat that PR effect, but have been much less concerned with chain of custody...for obvious reasons.

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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-30-08 11:11 AM
Response to Original message
5. L.A.Times: Colombia paramilitary bosses' laptops cause stir
Colombia paramilitary bosses' laptops cause stir
Officials failed to secure as evidence at least six computers after the militia leaders were extradited to the U.S.
By Chris Kraul, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
May 30, 2008

BOGOTA, COLOMBIA -- Revelations that several laptop computers owned by paramilitary bosses extradited to the United States this month were not kept secure by Colombian officials have raised concerns about government carelessness with potential evidence.

Colombia's Interior Ministry said it was investigating what happened to six of 11 laptops used by militia bosses in prison before they were extradited May 13 to face drug and terrorism charges in the United States. Chief prosecutor Mario Iguaran said an investigation could determine whether anyone tampered with the laptops.

The computer used by paramilitary leader Salvatore Mancuso has not been recovered, but the hard drive of a laptop owned by Ramiro "Cuco" Vanoy was returned by his attorney a week after Vanoy was sent with 13 others to the United States.

Four other laptops belonging to paramilitary leaders were out of the possession of government officials for up to two days after the leaders were extradited. Some computers had been turned over to family members or attorneys by prison officials before being recovered by the government.

Before they were extradited, many paramilitary leaders, including Mancuso, were cataloging their alleged misdeeds, including mass killings, extortion and drug trafficking, to comply with the demobilization conditions. For that reason, critics say, the laptops were treasure troves of information and the government should have kept a closer eye on them.

Now that the leaders have been hustled off to the United States, with their confessions incomplete, victims groups worry that they may never hear a full accounting of their crimes.


Salvatore Mancuso
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