A former paramilitary has testified before a U.S. court that coal giant Drummond Ltd. paid paramilitaries $1.5 million to murder union leaders, Colombian media reported Tuesday.
Alcides Mattos Tabares, alias "El Samario," claimed to have taken part in the murder of employees that Drummond ordered the Northern Bloc of the AUC paramilitary group to carry out over several years.
Drummond's union president and vice president, Valmore Locarno and Victor Hugo Orcasita, "had" to be killed because they were organizing a strike that would have generated losses for the company, said Tabares.
From 2002 until his 2005 capture, Tabares patrolled Drummond’s railway lines, where he participated in killings, sometimes directed by Drummond employees, he claimed. He spoke of the trade unionists' murder saying,"I was not exactly the shooter, but I participated in the event as Tolomaida's security chief."
Monthly payments of $100,000 or $150,000 were made by Drummond to the AUC through attorneys, the ex-paramilitary told the court, giving the Northern Bloc the strength to expand into the Perija mountains.