Former rebel chiefs in Colombia indicted over civil war abductions

Colombia Map

dpa/GNA – For the first time since the end of the civil war in Colombia, eight former commanders of the left-wing guerrilla organization FARC have been indicted by the country’s post-conflict tribunal, the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), for their involvement in mass abductions.

Over the course of several decades, FARC rebels abducted thousands of people in order to use ransom money to finance their armed struggle against the Colombian state.

The men allegedly deprived “people of their freedom, and conditioning their release, as well as their well-being, integrity and life, committed a war crime, specifically that of hostage-taking,” the Special Jurisdiction said in a statement Thursday.

The defendants include the former guerrilla leader and current leader of the FARC party Comunes, Rodrigo Londono also known as “Timochenko”, and other high-ranking ex-members of the FARC.

They now have 30 days to decide whether to accept responsibility for the charges. Should the ex-guerrilla commanders admit their actions, they should be granted considerable reductions of their penalties.

The current legal proceedings cover up to 8,500 kidnappings between 1993 and 2012.

A 52-year conflict ended when former Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos signed a historic peace deal with FARC in 2016. Some 7,000 fighters were demobilized and FARC became a political party.

The decades-long civil war led to 220,000 deaths, while millions of people were displaced.

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