The release is a major defeat for the Prosecutor General’s Office, which was removed from the case and ordered to surrender the evidence that would support the claim that the former guerrilla chief conspired to traffic 10 tons of drugs.
The Supreme Court order to release Santrich followed a ruling of the State Council, which confirmed that the FARC leader ought to enjoy the political rights of a congressman.
The former guerrilla ideologue was chosen to be the former guerrillas’ leader in the House of Representatives after the group laid down its weapons and formed a political party in 2017
Congressmen in Colombia can only be tried before the Supreme Court, which ordered the prosecution to surrender all evidence that would support the claim that Santrich conspired to traffic drugs.
House president Alejandro Chacon (Liberal Party), said he would swear in the former guerrilla leader as soon as he returned from a visit to Japan.
Santrich, whose real name is Zeuxis Hernandez, was initially arrested in April last year after the US filed an extradition request.
The Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) rejected this request and ordered Santrich’s release earlier this month, claiming there was no evidence to determine whether or when a crime was committed.
Claiming it had received new evidence from US authorities, the prosecution arrested Santrich minutes after his release from La Picota prison in Bogota in order to try him for drug trafficking before a Colombian court.
Santrich and the FARC have consistently claimed that the former guerrillas’ long-time ideologue was “framed” by the DEA and controversial former Prosecutor General Nestor Humberto Martinez, who resigned when the JEP ordered an investigation into alleged misconduct by the prosecution and the American counternarcotics agency.