Colombia’s war crimes tribunal on Tuesday suspended hearings of a jailed FARC leader after the prosecution refused the almost blind “Jesus Santrich” access to equipment that would allow him to read.
In a press release, the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) urged the Prosecutor General’s Office to authorize the entry of specialized equipment, considering that “the reading of the reports is an essential element of due process, as well as the assistance of a defense team.”
According to newspaper El Espectador, three magistrates of the JEP went to La Picota, the Bogota prison where the FARC leader is held on unsubstantiated drug trafficking charges, to hear Santrich’s testimony.
The magistrates waited for hours on the prosecution’s authorization of the entry of the specialized equipment that would allow the FARC leader to read the documents related to his alleged role in the FARC’s mass kidnapping of civilians, a practice that victimized more than 8,000 Colombians.
The authorization never came and the JEP suspended the hearing.
The war crimes tribunal, which enjoys the support of the United Nations, last year accused controversial Prosecutor General Nestor Humberto Martinez of “intimidating” and “categorically meddling” with the war crimes tribunal that seeks justice for Colombia’s 8.5 million victims of the armed conflict.
The prosecution’s move to obstruct the trial against Santrich came two days after President Ivan Duque, with the support of Martinez and the US government, defied the constitutional court and rejected the bill that defined the powers of the war crimes tribunal.
Duque’s refusal to sign off on the bill triggered a constitutional crisis. Experts have warned about potential clashes between the executive branch and the legislative branch, and between the ordinary justice system and the transitional justice system.
The president, whose far-right political allies have been associated with some of the country’s worst war crimes, opposed peace with the FARC ahead of his election, and has defunded key elements of the 2016 peace deal after taking office in August last year.