Restrepo fled Colombia because of threats: Defense

Colombia’s former Peace Commissioner Luis Carlos Restrepo fled the country not because he was evading justice over his alleged role in the FARC demobilization of a FARC front, but because he had received threats, his lawyer said Tuesday.

“Dr. Luis Carlos is not present here because he is protected by international rules because he is a person at risk,” Restrepo’s defense lawyer Mildred Hartman told the court in her rebuttal of the charges.

The attorney added that the defendant would be willing to return to Colombia if offered safety guarantees.

The lawyer’s plea contradicted those of allies of Restrepo who have said the former peace commissioner was politically persecuted. The former peace commissioner himself has said he might seek political asylum abroad.

Restrepo was the key member of the Uribe government during the controversial peace process with paramilitary organization AUC and is suspected of having coordinated the fake demobilization of the “Cacica Gaitana” front.

The former peace commissioner is accused of obstruction of justice, embezzlement, trafficking and the possession and manufacturing of weapons, all of which the defense strongly denied.

Restrepo left the country to an unrevealed destination only weeks before charges were brought against him.

The trial against the former Peace Commissioner will continue Thursday.

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