BOGOTA – Colombia’s peace process faced a test on Monday with the detention of Jesus Santrich, one of the leaders of former guerrilla group the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, before his extradition to the United States.
Though the peace agreement guarantees non-extradition of the members of the current political party of FARC, for crimes committed before sealing the agreement and those related to armed conflict, it does not apply to Santrich since, according to the authorities, the charges of drug trafficking pressed against him relate to crimes committed afterwards.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos made a joint statement with Attorney General Nestor Humberto Martinez at the Casa de Nariño, in which they spoke about the arrest of Santrich, alias Seuxis Paucias Hernandez Solarte, 51, on Monday in Bogota, and his legal status.
“The Attorney General has informed me that as a result of thorough investigations, he has compelling and conclusive evidence to prove the role of Seuxis Hernandez, known as Jesus Santrich, in drug trafficking crimes committed after the signing of the agreement,” Santos said.
The president added that the final peace agreement, signed in Bogota on Nov. 24, 2016, clearly states that whoever commits crimes after that date “will be brought before the ordinary court for the new crimes committed.”
According to the prosecutor, in Santrich’s case, the red notice for his arrest issued by Interpol at the request of the US reports the incidents occurred from June 2017 to April 2018.
These facts are specifically “an agreement to export ten tons of cocaine to the United States of America,” he said.
According to the Attorney General, besides Santrich, another three people identified as Marlon Marin, Armando Gomez, alias “the doctor,” and Fabio Simon Younes Arboleda were arrested for the same crime.
Santrich, besides being a former FARC leader and member of the Havana negotiating team in the peace talks, is one of five appointees for a seat in the House of Representatives in the legislature scheduled to start on July 20.
The former guerrilla’s arrest shattered the FARC party, whose leaders immediately rejected the Attorney General’s office actions.
“This is the worst moment that this peace process may be going through; the government has to act and prevent these legal arrangements leading to such incidents that generate great mistrust among all the guerrillas,” FARC senior leader Ivan Marquez told reporters.
The leader urged the government to “create facts that prevent attempts directly attacking the peace process from consolidating.”