Colombian Justice Sentences FARC Leader and Negotiator to 40 years

By Dialogo
June 27, 2013

Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) leader Timoleón Jiménez, and Iván Márquez, one of the negotiators in the peace talks held between this insurgency and the Colombian government, were sentenced to 40 years in prison for an attack that left four dead and 30 injured in 2003, the prosecution told AFP on June 25.

The sentence, which also convicted 22 other members of the communist FARC with the same penalty, was ruled by the 4th Criminal Court in Villavicencio, Meta department (center.)

The judge found the defendants guilty of rebellion, terrorism and murder, due to an attack that the FARC perpetrated with explosives against a boat, where four people died and 30 others were injured on August 24, 2003.

The sentence was ruled in addition to others against commanders of the FARC by the Colombian justice, mainly under the charges of terrorism, murder and kidnapping.

In spite of this situation, the prosecution has temporarily suspended the arrest warrants against Márquez and other FARC members, so that they are able to travel to Havana, where the guerrillas have been holding peace talks with the government of President Juan Manuel Santos since November 2012.

“That sentence has no bearing or influence over the peace talks,” said Álvaro Villarraga, director of the research center Democratic Culture Foundation and former member of the People’s Liberation Army’s demobilized guerrillas.

Currently, delegates of the Colombian government and the FARC are holding dialogues over the political participation of the FARC after its eventual disarmament.

This is the second of five points on the agenda previously arranged for the negotiation, which according to President Santos, should end the armed conflict with the FARC.

On this matter, Villariaga said that the new sentences against guerrilla leaders emphasize “the importance of justice in the (negotiation) agenda.”

“It is about the FARC having a political forum, but there will be a level of justice (for the guerrillas to make politics),” the analyst stated.

The parties have already dealt with the first topic on the agenda: comprehensive agrarian development, which, with the guerrillas’ political participation, illicit drugs, disarmament and victims’ reparations, make up the bulk of topics to be discussed.

The FARC is the oldest communist insurgency in Latin America; it has been confronting the Colombian state for 48 years, and presently has 8,000 combatants.

The other communist guerrilla group operating in Colombia is the National Liberation Army (ELN) with 2,500 members, but they have not been involved in the peace negotiations so far.