The United States’ ambassador in Colombia on Wednesday denied that his government has received a request to surrender evidence that would merit the extradition of FARC leader “Jesus Santrich.”
The US wants Santrich extradited on vague claims that the virtually blind former ideologue of the demobilized guerrilla group plotted to export 10 tons of cocaine in 2017 and 2018.
According to Santrich and the FARC, the DEA “framed” the former guerrilla leader. Evidence that has been made public by Colombia’s prosecution indicate they could be right.
The extradition request and the unexpected arrest of the FARC leader in April last year plunged Colombia’s peace process in crisis and spurred more than 30 mid-level commanders to go into hiding.
Colombia’s government was embarrassed last week when Justice Minister Gloria Maria Borrero was forced to admit that her department had failed to deliver a request for evidence.
The letter in which the war crimes tribunal requested US evidence that would support the claim was sent to Panama instead of Washington DC or the US embassy in Bogota, the minister admitted.
Following the embarrassment, Borrero told media that officials handed the letter personally to acting US Attorney General Matthew Whitaker (no relation), but this was denied by the ambassador.
“We haven’t received anything from the Colombian government,” Whitaker told press on Wednesday.
The government’s failure to deliver the letter is not just embarrassing, it could plunge the peace process in an even deeper crisis and aggravate tensions between the war crimes tribunal and President Ivan Duque, whose political patron, former President Alvaro Uribe, has been tied to multiple war crimes and even the formation of a death squad that left thousands of victims in his home province of Antioquia.
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