Santrich was released from jail for the second time in two weeks on Thursday after Colombia’s war crimes tribunal ruled there was no evidence to support the US drug trafficking claim and the Supreme Court ordered his immediate release on jail.
“We respect the decision of the court,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said, “but we do find this decision regrettable.”
According to Ortagus, the drug trafficking charges filed against the FARC’s former ideologue “as I’m sure you’re aware, are very severe, conspiring to ship over 10,000 kilos of cocaine.”
Santrich and the FARC have consistently claimed that Santrich was “framed” by the DEA and former chief prosecutor Nestor Humberto Martinez, a claim that is supported by evidence.
The attempt to link Santrich to drug trafficking and have him extradited plunged Colombia’s peace process in a major crisis last year and has since become a major headache for the US embassy in Bogota and the State Department in Washington DC.
Colombian lawmakers accused outgoing ambassador Kevin Whitaker of inappropriate meddling in the country’s peace process and the country’s war crimes tribunal ordered an investigation into possible misconduct by the DEA.
Dozens of US congressmen have said to be “disturbed” by the “pressure” on the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP).
The State Department announced earlier this month that Whitaker would be relieved of his post and Colombia’s chief prosecutor resigned furiously after the court order to investigate his office’s alleged misconduct.
Colombia’s Supreme Court removed the prosecution from the Santrich case and assumed the investigation into the drug trafficking claim after the State Council ruled confirmed the former rebel chief’s status as a Congressman who in Colombia can only be tried by the top court.
Furthermore, Santrich will have to appear before the JEP and repair his victims for war crimes committed by the FARC during the armed conflict.