Colombia’s resigned chief prosecutor may have allowed US authorities to bring charges and collect evidence against FARC commander “Jesus Santrich” without due process or oversight, according to the war crimes tribunal.
US authorities were given free reign to conduct investigations without the compulsory paperwork, and bring unjustifiable extradition demands, all in the name of “international judicial cooperation,” the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) alleged in its ruling to reject the extradition of FARC’s former ideologue.
Why Colombia’s war crimes tribunal rejected a US extradition request and released a FARC leader
The JEP ordered an investigation into top officials from the prosecution office, including former Prosecutor General Nestor Humberto Martinez, as well as the USA’s Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
The fundamental rights of Colombian citizens, and the sovereignty of the Colombian State, may have been been violated by the behavior of the prosecutor and of the USA, the court said. Additionally, the JEP expressed serious concerns around the lack of judicial oversight over undercover agents and “confidential witnesses” managed by the US.
It is suspected that US agents collected evidence and lodges extradition orders against Jesus Santrich without the prosecution providing the judicial assistance that would gran citizens’ rights and prevent foreign agencies to break Colombian law.
According to the JEP, the Prosecutor General’s Office admitted that the DEA never requested judicial assistance because the undercover agents gathered evidence and possibly intercepted phones without official affiliation to the agency, and therefore not in the capacity as state agents. The testimonies given in US courts were given as official DEA agents, allowing it to be permissible evidence.
This lack of official capacity allowed the DEA to bypass the compulsory checks and oversight of the Colombian government, but also leaves the DEA agents vulnerable to criminal prosecution in Colombia.
The USA would likely have retained legal impunity for the acts of those individuals, and all of this happened with the blessing of the Colombian prosecution office, it is alleged.
According to Martinez, the JEP’s claims that international law was broken “shatter international judicial cooperation.” The US government did not respond to the allegations of its agents’ possibly criminal activity.
The JEP ordered the immediate release of FARC leader Jesus Santrich on Wednesday, citing a lack of evidence and the “serious irregularities” in due process.
The ruling also denied an extradition request from the United States that last year claimed that Santrich, whose real name is Zeuxis Hernandez, conspired to traffic drugs between 2017 and 2018.