MEDELLÍN, Colombia – The Ministry of Defense said it will file a complaint before the International Criminal Court against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) for violating the international humanitarian law by using a “body bomb.”
The Colombian army said in a statement the FARC, which according to the government has about 7,000 members, put explosives on the corpse of soldier Alexander Valderrama. Valderrama, who had been missing since Nov. 16, reportedly drowned in the heavy floods that had swept through the department of Huila.
Police also said the FARC used a “body bomb” in the municipality of San Miguel in the department of Putumayo on Sept. 10, where eight policemen died.
“The use of ‘body bombs’ is a crime that could fall under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, according to the Rome Statute,” said Luis Sánchez Fajardo, a specialist in international humanitarian law. “It is possible that it could go as far as the Pre-Trial Chamber of the International Court.”
It’s a war crime, qualified as such by Protocols 1 and 2 of the Rome Statute, if the act is determined to have been committed during an internal armed conflict or during a war between countries, said Sánchez Fajardo, who has served as counselor to the Colombian Red Cross.
The Geneva Convention also considers it to be a war crime and a violation of its conventions, he added.
“It is not the first time the FARC have been accused of violating international humanitarian law,” said Silke Pfeiffer, project director for Colombia and the Andean Region with the International Crisis Group, a non-governmental organization headquartered in Brussels. “It is publicly known that they do.”
Pfeiffer said the Colombian government’s complaint filed before international organizations could delegitimize not only the FARC’s tactic of using “body bombs” but also the illegal organization itself “in the eyes of the civilian population.”
A Colombian police specialist in explosives, who asked not to be identified for security reasons, said the FARC has used different ways to carry out the “body bomb” tactic.
“One way to set that trap is to release a grenade’s safety lever almost completely, and tie a line to the safety ring, so that when the body is moved, the grenade is released and explodes.”
The specialist said another way to prepare the trap “is to use drops of mercury set out in such a way that, when they join, they activate the circuit that ignites the explosion … when the body is moved.”
A third method used by the FARC has been setting bombs off with cell phones, he said.
“This system was used in the case of the boy from Buenaventura (in the department of Valle del Cauca), a 12 year-old, who was carrying an explosive in his backpack, and when a call came in on the cell phone, the explosive detonated,” he said.
The explosion occurred on March 25 before the boy, who died, arrived in the police station in El Charco in the department of Nariño. Officials said the minor was deceived into going to the police station without knowing he was carrying a bomb.