Leader of Colombian FARC Guerrilla Group Sentenced to 22 Years in Prison
By Dialogo July 07, 2011
Henry Castellanos, alias Romaña, one of the leaders of the FARC, a Colombian communist guerrilla group, was sentenced in absentia to twenty-two years and nine months in prison for the offenses of terrorism, aggravated criminal conspiracy, and aggravated theft, the Public Prosecutor’s Office announced on 5 July.
Romaña, a member of the FARC’s general staff (its collegiate leadership body), was convicted of those charges on being found responsible for the forced displacement of at least thirty-nine people, several homicides, and the theft of 380 head of cattle, in the municipality of La Uribe, in the department of Meta (in central Colombia).
According to the investigation by the Public Prosecutor’s Office, those acts took place between 1999 and 2002, during the failed peace negotiations between conservative president Andrés Pastrana’s administration (1998-2002) and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
The municipality of La Uribe formed part of a demilitarized zone of 42,000 square kilometers turned over by Pastrana’s administration to the FARC in order to guarantee the security of the guerrillas involved in the negotiations.
The sentence against Romaña, who is in hiding, was handed down by the third judge of the city of Villavicencio, the capital of Meta.
Colombian courts have additionally handed down two other sentences against Romaña, of twenty and thirty-two years in prison, for a different instance of kidnapping in each case.
The FARC is Colombia’s chief guerrilla group, with forty-seven years of armed struggle against the state, and currently has around eight thousand fighters, according to the Defense Ministry.