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Colombian FARC to face 500,000 charges

Country's top prosecutor preparing biggest-ever legal action against guerrillas

Colombian FARC to face 500,000 charges

By Richard McColl

BOGOTA, Colombia

The attorney general’s office here is set to soon accuse the FARC of more than over 500,000 crimes during the Colombian conflict, including crimes against humanity and war crimes, a local radio station said Tuesday.

More than 100 high ranking FARC guerrillas including members of the Secretariat, currently involved in peace dialogues in Havana will be accused of massacres, kidnapping, torture, forced disappearances, displacement and the recruitment of minors.

The charges, which will make up the most extensive list of charges compiled against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

The first to be named will be Timoleón Jiménez, also known as Timochenko, the commander in chief of the rebel group.

The investigation represents “a very important advance, both internally and internationally,” according to Augusto Ibáñez, ex-president of the Colombian Supreme Court. In an interview on La F.M. radio on Tuesday. He said Colombia is accustomed to seeing individual legal processes not collective ones. “This has never been seen before as a whole,” he continued.

Ibáñez suggested that the accusations against the FARC will be productive for the peace talks in Cuba rather than being an obstacle.

The FARC, which has long pushed for a bilateral cease-fire during the talks that began in November 2012, responded in kind to the news of the impending charges.

“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 chief FARC negotiator Luciano Marín Arango, alias Iván Márquez, in an interview with the same radio station. “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 peace talks have addressed the issues of political participation, agrarian reform and illicit drugs but the sides have yet been able to reach any agreement on the victims of the conflict with the FARC believing its members to be original victims dating back to 1964 when hostilities began.

El Tiempo newspaper reported Monday that the FARC commander Timochenko ordered increased attacks on infrastructure such as pipelines and electricity pylons in an attempt to force the government into agreeing to a bilateral cease-fire.

The government of President Juan Manuel Santos has remained steadfast in its rejection of such a move, fearing the FARC will use it to resupply and retrain guerrillas as it did during failed peace talks in San Vicente del Caguán between 1998 and 2002.

The FARC move may backfire, however, as the Colombian public appears to be tiring of the conflicting messages being issued by the guerrillas – sentiments expressed by Sen. Alfredo Rangel of the Democratic Center party.

“The FARC will need to convince themselves that it is absolutely impossible to sign a peace agreement with total impunity and without spending a day in prison,” Rangel said Tuesday. “This is neither feasible in the eyes of the Colombian people nor for international justice,” he added.

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