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  • Jesus Santrich's supporters protest outside the Paloquemao Court in Bogotá, Colombia, May 20, 2019.

    Jesus Santrich's supporters protest outside the Paloquemao Court in Bogotá, Colombia, May 20, 2019. | Photo: EFE

Published 21 May 2019

The Colombia Supreme Justice will determine if an ordinary justice court is competent to advance the Jesus Santrich case.

Bogota's Guarantees Control 16th Judge decided Monday to send the file of Jesus Santrich, a former guerrilla and member of the Revolutionary Alternative Force (FARC) party, to the Colombian Supreme Justice Court so that the country's top court determines if the Paloquemao Court is competent to advance with the case.This decision was made at an indictement hearing in which Santrich was accused of alleged drug trafficking and conspiracy to commit a crime.

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"We hope that this hearing serves to give one step towards peace and not to reinforce the reputation of 'banana republic' which our country has," said Santrich during the hearing.

The former guerrilla's lawyer, Eduardo Matias Camargo, pointed out that the Paloquemao Court must be declared incompetent since Santrich, who is also a former negotiator in the peace dialogues which led to the guerrilla demobilization, is a congressman and, therefore, must be tried by the higher court.

Outside the Paloquemao Court, a sit-in was held in solidarity with Santrich, who was recaptured on May 17 by the Technical Investigation Unit (CTI) of the Prosecutor's Office, just a few minutes after being released from La Picota prison, where he had been imprisoned since April 2018.

The FARC leader is accused by the Colombian Prosecutor's Office and the U.S. justice system of being part of a conspiracy to send 10 cocaine tons, worth US$15 million, to the United States.

Santrich's short release came after a Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) ​​​​ruling, which granted him the guarantee of non-extradition because there was no evidence to determine the date of the alleged crime. However, the Prosecutor's Office issued an arrest warrant arguing the existence of "new evidence" 

For its part, the FARC party denounced Monday that judges insist on violating Santrich's dignity and due process, despite the fact that "Public Prosecutor's representative, in a guaranteed attitude, verified and appealed the illegality in the persistence of his deprivation of liberty."

"We continue to insist before the international community that part of the commitments is the obligation to guarantee the Agreement signatories' security and guarantees," the FARC said.​​​​​​​

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