Colombia Court Accuses Former Rebel Chiefs of War Atrocities

BOGOTÁ, Colombia—A exclusive tribunal program set up in Colombia to process war atrocities has accused eight former rebel commanders of war crimes and crimes from humanity for the guerrillas’ apply of kidnapping folks for the duration of the country’s decadeslong civil conflict.

The selection Thursday by the Unique Jurisdiction for Peace, a program of judges and investigators who have a mandate to identify duty for war-similar crimes, is a first from rebels of the now-defunct Innovative Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, because the group signed a peace accord with the govt in 2016.

Conflict researchers, victims and former peace negotiators explained the accusations are a signal to critics, who assert that rebels benefited from the peace process without having concern of punishment, that the justice program set up by the accord is operating.

“This is extremely essential, a very important move for the court. It is a indication that they are transferring past impunity,” explained

Jorge Restrepo,

director of the Conflict Analysis Resource Centre, a Bogotá -dependent investigate group. “Never in advance of had we been ready to accomplish an accusation like this from the guerrillas.”


Julieta Lemaitre

accused the former FARC leaders, two of whom are now in congress, of not only kidnapping but also murder, torture, sexual violence and compelled displacement for the duration of Colombia’s conflict, which cost far more than two hundred,000 lives and displaced millions. The Marxist group had extended used kidnappings of civilians, which includes Us residents, and extortion to finance its war to topple the Colombian point out.

In a 322-website page report, the court explained it had documented far more than 21,000 kidnapping circumstances and worked with far more than two,000 victims to reconstruct activities and recognize all those liable. “International felony law identifies the having of hostages as one particular of the most severe violations of international humanitarian law,” the court explained in a assertion.

The eight former commanders, which includes

Rodrigo Londoño,

who had been the FARC’s supreme chief, have thirty times to respond to the exclusive tribunal’s indictment. If they accept duty, they encounter restrictions on their independence for 5 to eight years. They also have the possibility to contest the accusations in court, which could open them to twenty years of jail time if they really do not admit they dedicated crimes and are convicted.

Rebel chief Rodrigo Londoño, heart, participated in talks that led to the abandonment of weapons by guerrillas and an finish to their motion.


raul arboleda/Agence France-Presse/Getty Pictures

Mr. Londoño and 5 other former commanders explained in a assertion that they are evaluating their alternatives with their attorneys. But they termed their dedication to the transitional justice program “irrevocable” and noted that they have currently been collaborating with the court’s investigations into the kidnappings.

Some thirteen,000 FARC rebels agreed to lay down their weapons and transformed into a political party with assured seats in congress under the peace accord. They also agreed to cooperate with a fact commission in which victims and all those who dedicated crimes reveal the aspects of atrocities as element of a reconciliation process.

But because the court accused the former FARC leaders of committing crimes from humanity, their alleged actions would bar them from receiving amnesty, explained

Alejandro Jimenez,

who researches transitional justice at Dejusticia, a plan group that scientific studies human legal rights and the law.

“This is a recognition of the victims,” Mr. Jimenez explained.

Even though the family members of victims termed Thursday’s indictments an essential first move,

Susy Abitbol

explained they were still waiting to see how considerably the rebels reveal and the variety of justice that is handed down.

“They must drop their independence like all those they held in captivity,” explained Ms. Abitbol. Her husband,

Capt. Edgar Duarte

of Colombia’s nationwide police, was held hostage by the FARC for thirteen years in advance of he was killed by the rebels for the duration of a unsuccessful navy rescue in 2011. “They must not be despatched on vacation to some farm,” she explained, referring to the risk of a light-weight sentence. “They must realize their crimes.”

Ms. Abitbol recalled the unusual letters and evidence-of-existence movies that were her only types of conversation with her husband. “We didn’t just have to reside the kidnapping but also thirteen years of captivity, mistreatment, viewing them chained to trees,” she explained, noting that Capt. Duarte was held with other provider associates.

Carolina Charry,

who was 16 years aged when her father,

Carlos Alberto Charry,

a point out legislator, was kidnapped and killed by the FARC, explained she hoped that the former rebel commanders would voluntarily take away on their own from politics when they complete their sentences.

“The FARC has regarded that there were kidnappings and inhumane treatment,” explained Ms. Charry, “but we need to have them to say, ‘Yes, we did it,’ and not consider to stay away from the duty.”

Generate to Juan Forero at [email protected]

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