Colombia’s FARC guerrillas to face 500,000 separate charges

One of Colombia’s leading prosecutors prepares for largest legal action ever of FARC guerrillas

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The attorney general’s office is on the verge to initiate legal action against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas on more than 500,000 separate charges, including crimes against humanity and war crimes, a local media outlet reported on Tuesday.

Over 100 high-ranking FARC officials including the secretariat, currently involved in peace negotiations in Cuba will be tried for murders, massacres, kidnapping, torture, displacement, and minor recruiting.

This trial will contain the most extensive and detailed crime allegations against the FARC guerrillas.

The list begins with charges against Timoleón Jiménez, the lead commander of the guerrilla organisation.

The trial will represent “a very important advance, both internally and internationally,” said Ibáñez, ex-president of the Colombian Supreme Court.

“This has never been seen before as a whole,” he added, speaking to a local radio show.

Ibanez refuted claims that the trial will be an obstacle for the peace talks continuing in Cuba, he said that quite the contrary it will add productivity.

The FARC has been negotiating for a bilateral ceasefire since peace talks began in November 2012.

“This action will oblige the attorney general to speed up charges and accusations for crimes committed by the state, which it has not done so far,” said leading FARC negotiator Luciano Marín Arango, said in an interview to a local media outlet.

“They will need to accelerate processes to clarify the phenomenon of the paramilitaries. How this phenomenon came about and how it was financed leaving so much human tragedy in our country,” he added.

The struggle between Colombian government and guerrilla organisations such as FARC has been continuing for 50 years. Over the years the death toll of the conflict has exceeded 220,000. The FARC rebels declared an armistice in December 2014 and invited the government forces to lay down arms against them. Despite such steps, the conflict is yet to be resolved.

Lately, the ongoing peace process has been struck by numerous events. Government forces conducted military operations and air strikes against the guerrilla forces after 11 soldiers were killed in an ambush in April. In reaction FARC unilaterally announced the suspension of the ceasefire last month.

More recently on May 31 an attack destroyed an electrical tower and left Colombia’s biggest port city of Buenaventura without power. The attack was attributed to the FARC rebels by Colombian officials.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos last year announced that during the peace talks the participants would focus negotiations on political reform, redistribution of land, ending drugs trafficking and reparations for the families of victims of the long-lasting conflict.

The talks have already produced partial agreements on rural reform, FARC to abandon drug trafficking activities, and FARC’s integration into Colombian political life.

Two negotiating points remain; victims and the end of violence.

The Colombian government and the FARC recently agreed on the formation of a truth commission that would be assembled upon the signing of a final agreement and would investigate what happened during the conflict.

Prior to the 38th round of peace talks that began in Cuba on June 17, Santos said “I am perfectly confident that we have a real opportunity to put the conflict in the only place it belongs: the history books.”

While FARC’s press statement revealed a hopeful stance “to make an agreement that will stop the conflict immediately, without waiting for the signing of a final agreement,” the Colombian government seeks a final agreement before a bilateral ceasefire can be implemented.

“We … put aside our disagreements, despite the inconsistencies of the discourse and actions of the government, which do nothing but ignite tensions in the country, and we once again call for a bilateral ceasefire that will bring relief and newfound hope to our people,” the FARC statement read.

Luis Carlos Villegas, Colombia’s former ambassador to the United States, returned to Bogota on June 17 to become the new defence minister. Before moving to the United States to seek support for the peace talks, he was part of the Colombian government’s peace negotiation team in Havana.

TRTWorld and agencies