On his third expedition, Columbus explored the region before returning to Hispaniola in 1498 where he had left his brothers in charge, Diego and Bartholomew. Conditions there were in decline so he stepped up the terror campaign against the Taino, ruling with an iron hand causing resentment from the colonists and local chiefs alike. Complaints of his brutality got back to the Spanish monarchs and in 1500 they sent a Chief Justice to bring him and his brothers back to Spain in chains. However he was released on his arrival and allowed a fourth and final expedition, which he conducted with the same brutality as previous ones. By the time he finally left in 1504, the Taino had been reduced from as many as eight million to around 100,000 people arguably making Columbus a war criminal by today’s standards and guilty of committing some of the worst atrocities against another race in history. Some were killed directly as punishments for ‘crimes’ such as not paying tribute to the invaders. Many who could not or would not pay had their hands cut off and were left to bleed to death. Columbus and his men are documented by the chronicles of Las Casas, know as Brev’sima relaci-n, to have partaken in mass hangings, roasting people on spits, burnings at the stake and even hacking young children to death and feeding them to dogs as punishment for the most minor of crimes. The Spanish masters massacred the natives, sometimes hundreds at a time for sport, making bets on who could split a man in two, or cut a head off in one blow. By 1542 there were only 200 Taino remaining and soon afterwords they were considered extinct, as was becoming more and more the case throughout the Caribbean basin.