Colombia’s Prosecutor General’s Office has made an official request to remove an apparent ex-FARC member from the benefits of the Justice and Peace Law, after the demobilization of a FARC front that “never existed.”
Raul Agudelo, alias “Olivo Saldaña, was given the title of “Manager of Peace” by former President Alvaro Uribe in March 2006 for his role in the apparent demobilization of the FARC’s “Cacica Gaitana” front in Tolima, with a total of 66 supposed guerrillas.
The Prosecutor General’s Office has deemed this to be a false demobilization, concluding that the “Cacica Gaitana” front never existed, although alleged government involvement is still unclear.
“In the field work that we did, with residents of the Alvarado municipality [Tolima department], they told us that this was a bloc of drug addicts, for in reality they were never guerrillas,” a prosecutor told Caracol Radio.
The investigative body’s request appears to confirm the majority of the claims of two imprisoned guerrillas, that surfaced in February, who stated that the government plotted with Olivo Saldaña and drug trafficker Hugo Alberto Rojas to recruit homeless and unemployed people and offer them between $280 and $450 (COP500,000-800,000) to train, live and act like FARC guerrillas, before “surrendering” to security forces.
The weapons that they turned in allegedly “didn’t work” because they were “outdated and not useful for anything,” the official added, according to newspaper El Colombiano.
Authorities were first alerted to the apparent deceitful demobilization during the testimony of ex-guerrilla Pedro Montoya, alias “Rojas,” in 2009, who claimed that Hugo Alberto Rojas had funded the false demobilization as part of a government deal to avoid extradition. He was nevertheless extradited to the U.S. in August 2006.
There are conflicting reports about
Saldaña’s current stance on the issue. In February of this year he denied the false demobilization, while El Espectador claims that he has in fact admitted the false nature of the supposed FARC front.
El Colombiano, meanwhile, quotes
Saldaña’s lawyer as saying that the testimony of his client in the “free versions” is linked to the request to remove him from the Justice and Peace process, further claiming to “have many documents [and] resolutions of [the front’s] existence” as far back as 2003.
Saldaña is indeed excluded from the Justice and Peace process, he will be tried in an ordinary criminal court of law rather than under the Justice and Peace Law, which stipulates a maximum term limit of eight years.