The Common Alternative Revolutionary Forces (FARC) party demanded Thursday the release of Jesus Santrich, one of its members and Colombian legislator, citing lack of evidence for his detention.
Nestor Martinez, Colombian prosecutor admitted before the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) that he doesn’t have proof of Santrich’s alleged participation in the crime of drug trafficking, but expects the United States justice system would provide evidence soon.
“I have reiterated to the JEP that in the file there is no proof of audios or videos… The Grand Jury in New York had access to audios and videos that determine the facts that have led to the action of the New York court in this case,” Martinez said.
Pablo Catatumbo, FARC senator responded to Martinez's comments saying that “the General Attorney lied to the country because some time ago he said there was forceful proof against him. This proves there is an illegal detention, and when there is no proof what proceeds is freedom.”
FARC insists there is evidence, which implicates Santirch in a drug trafficking network, and argues that his imprisonment was arbitrary and illegal.
Santrich, a former commander of the demobilized Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), was taken into custody on April 9 after the United States Durg Enforcement Administration, or DEA, requested his extradition on charges of drug trafficking. Santrich, a key member of the peace negotiation commission, denied these accusations, while FARC said it was an attempt to sabotage the peace agreement signed between Colombia and FARC in 2016.
Five months after he was imprisoned, Colombian authorities have been unable to show any evidence against Santrich. On September 18, the JEP requested Santrich’s file to determine whether it has jurisdiction over his case. The peace court specifically requested the videos and audios the general attorney cited during a press conference in April.
In response, the court accepted that Colombian authorities do not have the alleged proof because they are still held by a court in New York. U.S. authorities continue to call for Santrich’s extradition. Catatumbo urged the JEP to free Santrich and argued it would be a good signal for other demobilized guerrilla fighters who have no legal certainty.