Colombia’s former Peace Commissioner Luis Carlos Restrepo was charged with conspiracy, procedural fraud and the illegal trafficking of arms Friday despite having left the country.
The prosecution, who had already successfully petitioned an arrest warrant against Restrepo, demanded the close ally of former President Alvaro Uribe to be sent to jail while awaiting trial because of obstruction of justice after his apparent fleeing the country and failing to appear before hearings five times.
According to prosecutor Francisco Villarreal, the former peace commissioner had actively taken part in what he knew was a fraudulent demobilization of 62 fake FARC fighters in 2006.
The prosecutor called the fake demobilization process a “criminal enterprise” whose purpose was to obtain legal and financial benefits for drug traffickers and already-demobilized FARC guerrilla “Olivo Saldaña” and legitimize the increasingly controversial demobilization of right-wing paramilitary organization AUC.
“There is sufficient evidence to conclude that Restrepo, in his capacity as peace commissioner, helped mastermind the fraud, because he had been suggested by the command of the AUC to seek reapproachment with left-wing groups in order to benefit the procedures against them, to legitimimize the demobilization process” the prosecuter claimed.
Restrepo was appointed by former President Alvaro Uribe to lead the controversial dismantling of the AUC between 2003 and 2006 in which more than 30,000 suspected paramilitary fighters surrendered to authorities in exchange for legal benefits.
The former peace commissioner is the fourth high government official to be ordered to await trial in jail; Uribe’s former agriculture minister is alread jailed for allegedly embezzling $25 million, the former President’s then-chief of staff is in jail for his alleged role in the illegal wiretapping of the Supreme Court and government opponents while Uribe’s former intelligence chief sought refuge in Panama over her alleged role in the same wiretap scandal, for which Uribe is investigated by a congressional committee.
The former president’s first intelligence chief was sentenced because of his ties to the AUC and complicity in the killing of labor union leaders.
Uribe claims he and his the members of his administration are victim of a “criminal revenge” and “political persecution.”