Colombia’s former peace commissioner said Wednesday that the army needs to answer for the staged demobilization of a non-existent FARC front for which he is being investigated.
Luis Carlos Restrepo, who held his post under ex-President Alvaro Uribe’s administration, thinks the army should have publicly assumed responsibility or at least declare that they saw nothing irregular in the process that he claims they defend, he told radio station Blu.
“[The army] chose to wash its hands and put all of the responsibility on me,” Restrepo claimed in the live interview, the first he has given since fleeing the country.
The official fled Colombia in early 2012 to avoid prosecution on charges that he staged a fake demobilization of the FARC bloc known as Cacica La Gaitana. He claims he fled at the request of his family.
Though his location is unconfirmed, he said he has been living in a country since January 2012 recognized by the government as a political refugee. He is thought to have been granted asylum in Canada.
The former official denied knowledge of the staged nature of the demobilizations and that he was just doing his duties as peace commissioner. Restrepo also criticized the legal action against him.
“Since February 2012 I have had no arrest warrant and never have had an international arrest warrant. There is not one piece of evidence against me. This process was full of irregularities,” he said.
According to Restrepo, the Prosecutor General’s Office offered benefits to those falsely demobilized in order to incriminate the Uribe ally.
Restrepo said he can’t understand why after all this time, those alleged benefits haven’t been taken away.
During his time as peace commissioner, Restrepo oversaw a series of major paramilitary and minor guerrilla demobilizations.
The disgraced official is alleged to have plotted with imprisoned FARC guerrilla “Olivo Saldaña” and a drug trafficker to pay homeless and unemployed people in the central Tolima department $278 each to train, live and act like FARC guerrillas, to then surrender to security forces.
Apart from the accusations related to the fake FARC front, the former peace commissioner is also accused of aiding the inflation of demobilization figures of groups belonging to the right-wing paramilitary organization AUC who demobilized between 2003 and 2006.
Uribe has supported his former official, referring to him as an “efficient patriot, honest, and a victim of criminal vengeance.”
Both Restrepo and Uribe have consistently claimed the former Peace Commissioner is the victim of a political persecution of people close to the former president.