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  • Prominent FARC leader jesus Santrich wrote an open letter addressing his family and comrades.

    Prominent FARC leader jesus Santrich wrote an open letter addressing his family and comrades. | Photo: Twitter @SantrichLibre

Published 19 May 2018

The FARC leader was detained after the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration accused him of agreeing to traffic cocaine to the United States.

Jesus Santrich, detained prominent leader of Colombia's Revolutionary Alternative Forces of the Commons (FARC), has suspended the hunger strike he launched in protest against his persecution by the United States after 41 days.

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The decision was announced in Bogota by Santrich's FARC comrade, Jairo Estrada, who told reporters that after losing 16 kilograms of weight, Santrich is being treated by doctors.

Santrich has written a public letter, explaining his resolve: "My family and party, together with social and popular organizations, have carried me forward with their voice of sustenance, confidence and understanding.

"It is still possible to fight for due process against my arbitrary detention and for my freedom, to debunk the lies against me by the Justice Ministry and the gringo justice system."

Santrich will continue his efforts to overcome the enemies of peace and secure the successful reincorporation of ex-FARC combatants in society, and for the release of all political prisoners, he said.

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Colombia's FARC, Santos Discuss Peace Concerns

On Thursday, Colombia's Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), in charge of judging crimes committed during Colombia's armed conflict, decided to suspend Santrich's extradition to the United States.

The process was suspended for 120 days, during which it will be determined if the former insurgent will be judged by Colombian justice, or be sent to the United States.

The leader was detained after the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration accused Santrich of agreeing to export 10 tons of cocaine to the United States after the peace agreement was signed in November 2016. Santrich has denied the charges and FARC members have criticized his detention, warning it threatens the peace accords.  

Last week, Santrich was transferred to a compound overseen by the Colombian Episcopacy for humanitarian reasons.

Several prominent figures, including human rights activist Senator Ivan Cepeda and Alvaro Leyva, had called on Santrich to end his hunger strike and "live to create more peace."

The head of the United Nation's Verification Mission in Colombia, Jean Arnault, visited Santrich in hospital and expressed serious concerns about his health.

Santrich responded by saying that "life is worth nothing if we don't leave at least a small print of dignity that endures."

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