Trubunal unveils the first criminal charges against former FARC combatants since the 2016 peace agreement.
The Colombian Special Court for Peace (JEP) on Thursday accused eight former commanders of demobilized FARC combatants of war crimes and crimes against humanity for taking hostages during the country’s internal armed conflict.
This is the first time since the signing of the 2016 peace agreement that the JEP has attributed criminal responsibility to former leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), who demobilized to reintegrate into society.
“To deprive people of their liberty and to fix the conditions for their release, as well as their well-being, their integrity and their lives, was a war crime, especially the taking of hostages,” said the JEP in a press release read by magistrate Julieta Lemaitre.
The former commanders are also charged with other war crimes related to the treatment of kidnapping victims, including murder and torture, among others, Lemaitre said.
Among the accused are former FARC leader Rodrigo Londono – known by the name of war, Tymoshenko – Pablo Catatumbo, pastor Alape and Milton de Jesus Toncel. They have 30 days to accept or reject the charges.
If the commanders accept the charges, they will face restrictions on their freedoms for five to eight years.
However, if they reject them, they face up to 20 years in prison under the terms of the peace agreement that ended the role of the FARC in a conflict that has left 260,000 dead and millions displaced.
The JEP is a tribunal created under the 2016 peace accord to prosecute former FARC members and military leaders for alleged war crimes.
There was no immediate response from the former FARC commanders. Last year, former leaders – including Tymoshenko – asked for forgiveness for the kidnappings.
FARC fighters used the kidnappings to finance their war against the state, while captured military or government personnel were used to pressure the authorities to release the imprisoned rebels, the JEP said.
Abduction victims claim to continue to suffer from mental disorders caused by the physical and emotional suffering to which they have been subjected.