The ruling not only revoked his congressional privileges, but also banned the former rebel leader him from ever running for office again- an outcome known as ‘political death’.
The decision, confirmed by State Council president Lucy Bermudez, came as a result of the Inspector General demanding his removal earlier this month for failing to take his seat last year.
The Colombian constitution dictates that officials must take their seat within eight days of the opening of a new Congress. Failing to comply with this provision without sufficient reason would result in this political death.
President Ivan Duque, who opposes the peace deal and has been a staunch opponent of the FARC’s political participation, welcomed the development.
FARC have announced that Benkos Bioho, a demobilized FARC commander, will be the person to take Marquez’s place in Congress.
FARC senator Carlos Antonio Lozada confirmed this, and added that while FARC would assess whether to appeal the ruling, they were happy for Bioho to fill Marquez’s seat.
Marquez fled from the reintegration camp where he was staying and went into hiding last year, allegedly after he was warned that a group of armed men were on their way to the camp.
In the run-up to his disappearance, Marquez had already left the capital Bogota, frustrated that his former brother in arms, “Jesus Santrich,” had been arrested on a so-far unsubstantiated US drug trafficking charge.
The former rebel leader fell out out with other FARC leaders after he said on Twitter it had been a “grave mistake to lay down our arms to a deceitful state.”
Marquez is also in danger of losing judicial benefits granted to him under the peace deal over his consistent failures to report to the country’s war crimes tribunal.
A hearing before the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) was originally scheduled for March 14 and rescheduled to May 2, but Marquez never appeared, citing a lack of guarantees he would not face the same fate as Santrich and security concerns.
The JEP is studying how to punish Marquez for his failures to cooperate with justice. The worst case scenario for the man who led the FARC’s peace negotiation team between 2012 and 2016 would be to have all criminal charges be transferred to the ordinary justice system and lose his protection against extradition to the United States.