Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos says he will go to jail before any of his military officials, in response to arrest warrants for six high ranking Colombian officials issued by Ecuador.
The warrants were issued in reaction to a 2008 cross-border raid resulted in the death of leftist guerrilla and commander of the FARC, Raul Reyes, along with 25 other FARC guerrillas. Santos said that he does not recognize the jurisdiction of Colombia’s neighbor and confirms that he will continue to defend all members of the Colombian Armed Forces where necessary.
In late June, the Sucumbios Court of Justice pressed charges against six Colombian Officials for murder, but refrained from charging President Juan Manuel Santos, who was Defense Minister at the time, with the same crime. The current arrest warrants were issued for six current and former military chiefs that did not appear at a court hearing on Monday. The court of Sucumbios also ordered the capture of General Oscar Naranjo on alleged murder charges.
In his address, Santos acknowledged his participation in the operation and the current arrest warrants from Ecuador for six Colombian officials. He commented that “everyone can be absolutely calm, because I will go to jail first before any of them.”
Santos said that Colombia didn’t recognize the jurisdiction of the Sucumbios judge that had ordered the capture of Naranjo and other retired Colombian officials. He asserted that the military operation was an action of the State, and individual officers should not be charged for crimes when they are considered to be patriotic heroes for what they did.
Vicepresident Angelino Garzon also spoke, indicating that it was an absurd decision of the Ecuadorean judge to order the capture of Naranjo, director of the Colombian police force, for the bombing that caused the death of Reyes and others in Ecuador. However, he did say that the government will take “diplomatic and judicial” action in the case.
Garzon assured that the responsibility for the military operation would be taken on by the state as a whole, and not by the individual Colombian officials.