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US jail term for Colombian ex-general

Alexandria, Virginia - A US federal judge sentenced a former Colombian security chief to 13 years in prison Friday for providing “material support” to a right-wing Colombian paramilitary group.

Retired general Mauricio Santoyo, who was ex-president Alvaro Uribe's security chief, was arrested in June for taking bribes in return for helping the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), a group linked to drug trafficking and political killings.

Oscar Rodriguez, attorney for former Colombian Gen. Mauricio Santoyo Velasco speaks during a news conference outside federal court in Alexandria, Va., Friday, Dec. 14, 2012, after Velasco, a former top Colombian police general was sentenced to 13 years in prison for taking bribes from a right-wing paramilitary group that the U.S. considers a terrorist organization. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci). Credit: AP

US District Judge James Cacheris sentenced Santoyo to 13 years in prison after he was found guilty of providing “material support to a foreign terrorist organization,” and fined him $125,000.

Santoyo, 54, a nearly 30-year veteran of the Colombian police, commanded the police's elite anti-terrorist corps in addition to serving as Uribe's security chief.

He was the highest ranking Colombian security official ever convicted in the United States.

Santoyo is set to serve his sentence in a prison in Florida. - Sapa-AFP

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