Colombia’s prosecution files charges against war crimes tribunal officials

Former Prosecutor General Nestor Humberto Martinez (Image: Prosecutor General's Office)

Three officials of Colombia’s war crimes tribunal were charged with fraud on Tuesday amid ongoing tensions between controversial chief prosecutor and the transitional justice system.

The disgraced Prosecutor General’s Office claims that the officials broke the law when allowing three members of demobilized guerrilla group FARC to make trips abroad.

Controversial investigation

The charges are based on claims made by the former secretary of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), Nestor Correa, who was forced to resign in April over alleged corruption and mismanagement.

Secretary of Colombia war crimes tribunal resigns

Correa’s alleged mismanagement spurred international scrutiny, but the former secretary has controversially not been charged of any crimes.

Instead, Correa became an informant of Prosecutor General Nestor Humberto Martinez, who has been disgraced by some of the country’s worst corruption scandals and is accused of trying to frustrate the country’s peace process.

JEP President Patricia Linares accused Martinez of “categorical meddling” with and even “intimidating” the court. Linares received support from the UN’s mission chief in Colombia, Jean Arnault, who urged Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo before the UN Security Council to respect the tribunal earlier this month.

UN urges Colombia to respect war crimes tribunal and end FARC’s ‘legal uncertainty’

The Senate’s Peace Commission called in Martinez and Linares last week in an attempt to mediate a solution to the crisis between the country’s ordinary and transitional justice systems.

Colombia’s elites in the corner

The JEP is currently investigating war crimes committed by the FARC and the military committed during the country’s decades-long armed conflict.

Both the guerrillas and the state are facing charges related to crimes against humanity and crimes related to the armed conflict.

After decades of virtual impunity, the investigations threaten to further destabilize the country’s state apparatus and the dynasties that have long controlled the political system; the Supreme Court imprisoned more than 60 former congressmen and 7 former governors for ties to paramilitary death squads.

Former leaders of now-defunct paramilitary organization AUC have sworn to also cooperate with the JEP and a Truth Commission on claims that as many as half of the congressmen who were elected in 2002 and numerous corporations took part in crimes against humanity, but were never duly investigated.

Half of Colombia’s Congress worked with paramilitaries: ex-AUC ideologue

President Ivan Duque — whose political patron former President Alvaro Uribe is also investigated by the Supreme Court — has vowed to limit the JEP’s powers after the Constitutional Court blocked Congress’ attempts to do so.

The president in turn has been opposed by victims organizations and is closely watched by the UN, which is monitoring the peace process.

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