Jorge Gallardo: Profile of “The Butcher”.

May 23, 2013 sliabh Rionegro News

BBC News – Latin America

8 March 2013 Last updated at 15:04 GMT

A former altar boy, pastry salesman, soldier, and secret policeman, Jorge Gallardo is now one of the most wanted men in Latin America. Implicated in a string of alleged war crimes in the Rionegron Civil war, he now is a fugitive, pursued by several local governments as well as the International Criminal Court in the Hague.

Gallardo originally grew up in north western border province of San Esteban outside the city of the same name near the border with Domiguan. Three years ago he was a military reservist working in a patisserie in the Rionegro capital San Pedro. When the civil war started he joined the 25th Light Infantry to fight for Vice President Munoz’s Republicano faction. After several months of service he is believed to have volunteered to join the feared Oficina de Seguridad del Estado de Rionegro – the Rionegro Bureau of State Security, known by the acronym OSER. Promoted to lead his own unit, he was heavily involved in “pacification” activities in areas recaptured by Republicano forces from their Rival Patriotas. Gallardo is alleged to have ordered the torture and execution of both soldiers and civilians, as well as theft of money and property from those deemed “enemies of Munoz”. About this time he picked up the nickname “The Butcher”.

As condemnation of the activities of OSER began to increase last year, Gallardo who had always kept a low profile, is believed to have been recalled to San Pedro and demoted. This may have been an attempt to keep him off the radar of the special envoys appointed by the UN to investigate allegations of war crimes in the Rionegron civil war.

Around the same time a report was published in January definitively linking the government of neighbouring San Soles to the illegal supply of Surface to Surface Missiles to Munoz’s Republicanos two years ago. This was in contravention of the international arms embargo which has been in place since the outbreak of the war. In order to avoid UN sanctions the San Soles government announced the end of all support for Munoz and a policy of non-involvement in the Rionegron civil war. Gallardo is believed to have regarded this as a betrayal, and in retaliation he organised and claimed responsibility for the bombing of a bus on a scheduled passenger service in San Soles which killed 17 people.

The action was swiftly condemned by Munoz himself which formally ended Gallardo’s days with the Republicano faction. He appears to have retained a few allies, managing to evade capture by the Rionegro police following the bombing. It is believed that he has fled the capital, but his current whereabouts are unknown. Rewards for his capture have been offered by the government of San Soles and the UN. And it is likely that his former Republicano colleagues are also keen to locate him to remove a potential embarrassment to their cause.

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