Colombia’s “constitutional order is under threat” after the country’s war crimes tribunal ordered to suspend the extradition of a demobilized guerrilla leader, the country’s chief prosecutor said Thursday.
The decision spurred a fierce response from Prosecutor General Nestor Humberto Martinez who had ordered the arrest for extradition purposes.
The United States has yet to ratify the extradition request, which must be done within 60 days after the request to arrest a suspect. Less than 40 days have passed since Santrich’s arrest.
Martinez sent a letter to Inspector General Fernando Carrillo in which he requested intervention, claiming that “with the JEP’s decision, the constitutional order is under threat.”
The urgent intervention of the Public Ministry is essential in defense of the constitutional order now that the democratic institutionality, congressional competence, the integrity of ordinary justice and international cooperation in the fight against crime have come under threat.
Prosecutor General’s Office
The chief prosecutor claimed that the court overstepped its bounds.
Interior Minister Guillermo Rivera and Justice Minister Enrique Gil also rejected the move, claiming that the JEP can only suspend extraditions once they have been filed formally.
Whether Santrich would survive the legal debate is uncertain. He has refused all food and is reportedly only drinking tea. Few humans have survived more than 60 days without food.
FARC leader have warned that the extradition or death of the former guerrillas’ long-time ideologue would mean the end of the process.
Peace advocates have asked Santrich to lift the hunger strike and have asked the government to investigate alleged crimes by FARC leaders in Colombia before considering any extradition requests.
The extradition of former paramilitary leaders in 2008 severely frustrated war crime investigations, leaving questions of tens of thousands of victims unanswered.