Colombian President Defends Evidence Value of FARC Computers

By Dialogo
May 24, 2011

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos defended the evidence value of the contents of the computers seized from the FARC guerrilla group in Ecuador in 2008, after the Supreme Court of Justice rejected them as evidence in a trial.

“There are other countries that have already used that evidence, for example Spain, to order arrests,” Santos told reporters, after recalling that when the seizure took place, he was serving as defense minister.

“We were especially careful, especially careful to respect the chain of custody and collect the evidence properly,” Santos told reporters in the Caribbean port of Cartagena (in northern Colombia) on 20 May.

The computers of slain commander Raúl Reyes were seized by the Colombian military following the bombing of a rebel camp in Ecuador in which the guerrilla leader and a score of other individuals died.

“And what is on the computers is enormously valuable in our fight against terrorism. Therefore, I hope that in the appeal that the attorney-general is going to file, some doubts can be clarified that apparently exist regarding the procedures, and especially regarding the impact that a ruling of this kind might have on the country’s national security,” he added.

Colombian Attorney-General Alejandro Ordóñez plans to file an appeal against the finding by the Supreme Court, since his office based itself on those computers in sanctioning Liberal senator Piedad Córdoba with eighteen years of disqualification for “collaborating” with the FARC.

Córdoba, removed from office by Congress in November 2010, at one time acted as a mediator with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC, a communist group) to obtain the release of kidnapping victims, in some cases with the authorized collaboration of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.

On 19 May, the president of the Supreme Court of Justice, Camilo Tarquino, announced that the court rejected the evidence value of Reyes’s computers, due to their having been seized irregularly.