Former FARC rebel and peace negotiator Jesús Santrich arrested on U.S. drug-trafficking charges
Prominent FARC leader Seuxis Paucias Hernández Solarte, also known as ‘Jesús Santrich’ was arrested on April 9 at the request of U.S. authorities. Santrich and three other FARC associates could now face extradition to the U.S. for allegedly conspiring to export 10 tons of cocaine, Attorney General Nestor Humberto Martínez declared in a televised address. Martínez explained that, according to an Interpol red alert, the former rebels had been engaging in the illegal activities between June 2017 and April 2018.
The peace agreement signed between the government and the FARC stipulates that crimes committed after December 1, 2016 may be subject to extradition. Patricia Linares, president of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace, has confirmed this but went on to clarify that these cases fall under the jurisdiction of this tribunal. At the very least, it will examine whether the crimes attributed to Santrich really were committed after the signing of the peace deal, and may then refer them to the ordinary justice system.
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In a press conference held the morning after Santrich’s detention, leading FARC party member and former chief negotiator, Iván Márquez, expressed his concern over the situation, stating that “the peace process is facing its most critical moment.” “The arrest of Jesús Santrich is part of an orchestrated plan of the U.S. government backed by the Colombian office of the Attorney General,” he said, urging the international community to intervene and monitor the situation.
Following the peace agreement, the FARC laid down its arms and agreed to participate in the transitional justice mechanisms designed to investigate grave human rights violations. In September 2017, the guerrilla officially transformed into a legal political party, known as the Fuerza Alternativa Revolucionaria del Común (Alternative Revolutionary Force for the Common People). Santrich was one of the FARC’s congressional candidates during last month’s elections and is set to take one of the 10 seats allocated to the newly formed party.
Meanwhile, President Santos has underscored that if there is “irrefutable proof” regarding the charges against Santrich, he will have “no hesitation” to authorise extradition for crimes committed after the signing of the peace accord.