Americas

Colombia rejects extradition of FARC commander to US

Former FARC commander, known as Jesus Santrich, ordered by special court to be immediately released Wednesday

Lokman İlhan,Vakkas Doğantekin   | 15.05.2019
Colombia rejects extradition of FARC commander to US

BOGOTA 

Colombia’s Attorney General Nelson Humberto Martinez resigned Wednesday in protest of a special court’s decision that ordered the release of a former FARC commander accused of drug trafficking.

“This challenge to judicial order will not be endorsed by the undersigned. My conscience and my devotion to the rule of law prohibit it. For that reason I have presented my irrevocable resignation," Martinez told reporters.

Colombia's Special Jurisdiction for Peace, JEP, ordered Martinez earlier in the day to release Seuxis Paucias Hernandez from prison.

"The JEP applies the guarantee of non-extradition to Seuxis Paucias Hernández, because the evidence does not allow the evaluation of the conduct nor does it establish the precise date of its realization," the special court wrote on Twitter.

A former commander of the demobilized Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Hernandez, also known as Jesus Santrich, flatly denies accusations of drug trafficking since the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) requested his extradition. 

Santrich played a key role in Colombia's 2016 Peace Accord signed in Havana between the FARC and the Manuel Santos government that ended more than 50 years of conflict between the two sides.

Peace accord with FARC

A peace deal with the Colombian government signed in 2016 granted FARC rebels legislative representation and ended their struggle for power. It was believed to be the final chapter of a half-century of struggle widely recognized as the longest-running conflict in the Western Hemisphere.

But the FARC’s path to Congress has not been an easy road.

The group had to deal with widespread popular anger and faced fierce opposition from the center-right and right of the political spectrum. Right-wing politicians constantly criticized the seats that the peace agreement granted to the FARC, highlighting those who perpetrated war crimes should not be able to participate in politics without first being prosecuted.

The deal gave FARC amnesty for crimes committed before the signing. Previous convictions were handed down by courts allowing leaders to participate in politics and run for public office once they handed in their guns. But any legal violations committed after the agreement will be prosecuted under the ordinary legal system.

Former guerrillas have faced judicial challenges since the agreement was signed. The U.S. Justice Department requested the extradition of Santrich for drug trafficking offenses, meaning he will be unable to occupy his position in Congress. Santrich has not been extradited but remained in custody in Colombia and was not allowed to take possession of his seat in the House of Representatives. 

Santrich’s detention on April 9, 2018 triggered a political storm. Consequently, Ivan Marquez, another prominent FARC leader, resigned his seat, arguing that the government had breached the agreement. 

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