Colombia’s Prosecutor General’s Office said Monday he will hear three officials from the country’s war crimes tribunal over the disappearance of demobilized FARC leaders.
July Henriquez, Luis Caicedo and Martha Lucia Zamora, who make up part of the executive secretariat of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), will be interrogated amid suspicions of “procedural fraud” on Friday.
Prosecutor Nestor Humberto Martinez suspects that these irregularities within the JEP facilitated or disguised the sudden disappearance of several high profile former FARC commanders including Luciano Marin, a.k.a. “Ivan Marquez.”
Martinez said that “the prosecution has evidence that some officials … would be cooking up falsehoods and procedural fraud so that the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) won’t act as it should, in compliance with the constitution and the law.”
“For that reason, we have opened an inquiry by a special prosecutor, who must produce decisions promptly,” added Martinez.
The disappearance of the men has led to criticism of the JEP, through which commanders and other war crime suspects are expected to be tried at a special tribunal for alleged war crimes and will serve alternative sentences if found guilty.
Senator Ciro Ramirez, of the hard-right Democratic Center Party, highlighted what he considers to be constant “scandals” that the Special Jurisdiction has led and asked the Prosecutor General to “show evidence, names and what the indications or facts that show this news”.
“We Colombians are seeing that the JEP is being better known for its scandals, the errors, its partiality and now for an alleged scandal in which officials of that jurisdiction are involved in favoring members of the FARC; This is very serious. If it were to be true, the JEP would be called into question”, said the Congressman to Blu Radio.
The Senator, whose party has been opposed to the peace process from the beginning, claimed that if wrongdoing is proven on the part of the JEP, the whole mechanism may need to be reformed.
“If the JEP is favoring, helping the country’s crime, the entire jurisdiction should be analyzed,” said Ramirez.
“The debate should start if this jurisdiction is going to serve what it was created for, or if we have to start looking at how we can reform it or what to do in the future,” he added.
The JEP was set up as part of the historic 2016 peace deal between the Colombian government and the Marxist-inspired FARC guerrillas to try war criminals under special conditions.
The already-fragile peace process was rocked further last week when the United Nations confirmed that six leading members of the FARC had fled their reintegration camps including Hernan Dario Velasquez, who goes by the nom de guerre “El Paisa,” and Henry Castellanos a.k.a “Romaña.”
The other four commanders missing, and who go by their noms de guerre, are “Ivan Ali,” “Albeiro Cordoba,” “El Zarco Aldinever,” and “Enrique Marulanda,” the son of FARC founder “Manuel Marulanda,” according to news agency Reuters.
The special Territorial Training and Reintegration Spaces (ETCR) and a New Regrouping Point (NPR) camps were established in the deal where the commanders were engaged in reintegration programs.
Marquez however is not among those six because he had no responsibility in the effective reintegration of former fighters in the camps.
The chief prosecutor has been a long-time critic of the transitional justice system and has been criticized himself for his failure to investigate crimes committed by the military.
Martinez was reprimanded by the International Criminal Court last year for failing to compile case files on 29 top military commanders accused of involvement in the mass killing of civilians.
The JEP is expected to investigate and try the worst crimes committed during Colombia’s armed conflict that began in 1964 and killed at least 260,000 Colombians.