Colombia’s prosecution accused eight members of the FARC, Colombia’s oldest and largest rebel group, of perpetrating one of the most notorious attacks in the history of the country’s decades-long armed conflict.
A prosecutor from the government’s human rights division has issued formal accusations against eight active FARC members allegedly behind the 1998 siege on the town of Miraflores, a two-day attack in which over 1,500 FARC troops seized a Church, hospital, military base and anti-narcotics police base in the Guaviare department, kidnapping 129 police and military personnel, killing 19 people, including three civilians, and injuring many more.
The attack came before a successful government push to combat the FARC and its drug-trafficking operations — its primary source of financial backing at the time, and initiated the largest surge of terrorist activity in the guerrilla group’s history. Over the next two years, at least four similar mass-kidnapping attacks were carried out across the country.
Most of the prisoners from the Miraflores incident were eventually released, whether through negotiations or unilateral efforts on the part of the FARC, but some were only retrieved in military rescue efforts, after being held for more than 10 years.
One of the accused FARC members — Jaime Alberto Parra Rodriguez, aka Mauricio el Medico — is playing a prominent role in ongoing negotiations between the FARC and the government in Havana, and therefore will be left alone, say government officials.
But the prosecutor’s office is calling for the immediate capture of the other seven members, who will be tried for their role in what the government has called a “massive human rights violation”.
The Santos administration has indicated it will consider some form of immunity for FARC members as part of a potential peace agreement. But as talks in Havana entered their 14th round earlier this week, ex-military officials began placing pressure on the national government to hold the FARC accountable for previous crimes.