The Colombian government has denied the integration of some 2,800 common criminals in a peace process with the now-demobilized FARC guerrilla group, the peace commissioner said.
According to figures given to media, the government has only allowed the demobilization, disarmament and reintegration of 11,284 guerrillas and militia members of the 14,088 who had been reported by the FARC leadership.
The remaining 2,804 men and women were no members of the FARC, but common criminals, and have been denied judicial benefits, the office of Peace Commissioner Rodrigo Rivera said in a press statement.
The office had carried out an investigation after claims by newspaper El Tiempo that a convicted Bogota crime lord had appeared on the list without ever having been member of the FARC.
Another 382 reported guerrillas are being investigated for being alleged criminals, the Peace Commissioner’s Office said.
A commission comprised of security forces and prosecution officials was expected to be investigating the FARC list since February, but had failed to report any irregularities, Rivera’s office said.
The claim was not confirmed by the United Nations, the international organization that has monitored the peace process. The FARC would not respond to the allegations.
According to newspaper El Tiempo, the United States’ Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is investigating two defense attorneys suspected of receiving bribes from imprisoned criminals trying to be included on the FARC’s list that would allow more lenient sentencing.
These attorneys allegedly charged $1,700 (COP5 million) to allow the criminals’ inclusion in the list in collusion with former mid-level guerrilla commanders.
Among the allegedly fake guerrillas are members of crime and paramilitary groups, some of whom actively opposed the FARC during the group’s participation in the armed conflict.
Rivera warned that guerrilla leaders linked to the alleged inflation of the FARC’s demobilization list could lose all benefits granted to members of the group that is now a political party.
The alleged inflation of demobilized FARC members echo irregularities that happened during the demobilization of paramilitary umbrella organization AUC under former President Alvaro Uribe between 2003 and 2006.
Rivera told the newspaper that he would talk with Prosecutor General Nestor Humberto Martinez to discuss possible criminal charges against those involved in the alleged inflation.
The figure presented by the peace commissioner is different than that reported by the United Nations. The United Nations’ registry, however, did not include imprisoned FARC guerrillas taking part in the peace process.