Ex-rebels leaders seem earlier than Colombia’s peace tribunal

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) – Dressed in blazers and collared shirts, leaders of Colombia’s as soon as largest guerrilla military made their first look at a brand new particular peace tribunal Friday to reply to allegations of warfare crimes throughout 5 many years of bloody battle.

“I’m here at your disposition,” mentioned Rodrigo Londono, wanting extra like a professor in a pair of thick-rimmed glasses than a former insurgent chief. “Watching with profound emotion as the dream we weaved together in Havana comes to crystallization.”

The procedural listening to for “Case No. 001” lasted three hours and was attended by simply three of the 31 leaders of the disbanded Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia who had been summoned. Most as a substitute had been represented by attorneys.

One, Seuxis Hernandez, appeared on a stay tv feed from contained in the detention middle the place he’s being held on prices of conspiring to smuggle cocaine into the U.S.

“This is an illegal detention,” Hernandez mentioned throughout a rant decrying that he had not been permitted to attend in particular person. The audio from the transmission was ultimately minimize off, after which Hernandez waved a peace signal to the viewers.

The tribunal was arrange below phrases of the peace accord signed by the federal government and leaders of the FARC.

Its first case considerations kidnappings that FARC guerrillas dedicated between 1993 and 2012, a time when the insurgent military was increasing. Kidnappings had been a standard observe used to extort cash from households and to indicate management of the civilian inhabitants.

Victims included high-profile politicians like Ingrid Betancourt, who was kidnapped whereas campaigning for president, however the identities of many are nonetheless unknown.

Some kidnapping victims had been rescued or escaped whereas others had been killed.

Magistrates have studies from the chief prosecutor’s workplace and impartial organizations offering data on a number of hundred circumstances. One of their key duties might be figuring out precisely how many individuals had been kidnapped by guerrillas and what occurred to them, although the quantity is probably going too giant for every case to be totally accounted for.

Magistrate Julieta Lemaitre mentioned the tribunal’s first case represents “a fundamental step in the effort to put an end to the armed conflict.”

The prosecutor’s report has not been launched publicly, however Colombian station BLU Radio obtained a duplicate through which investigators allege there have been greater than eight,000 kidnapping victims. Nearly 75 p.c had been males and a couple of quarter had been peasants.

The report, which has not been seen by The Associated Press, additionally alleges the rebels obtained tens of millions of via kidnappings.

Luz Marina Monzon, who’s overseeing the unit in command of discovering the disappeared, mentioned officers proceed to obtain requests for assist discovering individuals who went lacking.

She mentioned the reality and recognition stage of the peace course of that has now begun will “help resolve what happened to these people.”

Because of the immense scope of the battle, the particular peace tribunal is more likely to delve solely right into a small fraction of the warfare’s brutal toll. The battle between leftist rebels, paramilitaries and the state resulted in not less than 250,000 useless, 60,000 lacking and tens of millions displaced.

Under the peace deal, ex-rebels are required to completely confess any warfare crimes and make reparations to victims. The particular peace tribunal is likely one of the most controversial components of the accord, largely as a result of it’s going to permit most former combatants who cooperate to flee any time behind bars and enter politics.

President-elect Ivan Duque vowed all through this marketing campaign to alter components of the accord, together with creating harder punishments for these accused of crimes towards humanity. Duque may make some modifications by decree or in congress, although he would doubtless face appreciable resistance.

Londono, best known as Timochenko, sat in a front row seat alongside two other ex-guerrilla leaders. One brought a bouquet of roses, the emblem of the group’s new political party.

After leaving the court, Londono read a lengthy statement in which he complained about the presence of journalists at the proceeding but also vowed that all those summoned would fully comply with the process.

Acknowledging that irreparable harm was done to many Colombian families, he said: “We ask them for forgiveness. We will do whatever it takes so that they can know the truth.”

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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