Repentant Colombian Rebel Sentenced To 33 Years

By Dialogo
February 13, 2009

Former leftist FARC rebel Elda Neyis Mosquera, who surrendered to Colombian authorities in May 2008, was sentenced to 33 years in jail for leading an attack in which 14 people were killed. The chief prosecutor in Caldas province, Anibal Arbelaez, said that as commander of Front 47 of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, Mosquera led the July 2000 assault on the town of Arboleda. Twelve police and two civilians were killed and the town was in chaos. Mosquera, better known by the nom de guerre "Karina," pleaded guilty, for which her sentence, originally for 50 years, was reduced by a third, prosecutor Arbelaez said. Karina was considered one of the most important leaders of the FARC, Colombia's largest insurgency. Last summer, she reached a plea bargain with prosecutors in the case involving a 1999 FARC attack on the northwestern town of Jurado, in which 24 members of the security forces were killed and 37 others wounded. With a $1 million price on her head, Karina deserted the FARC two weeks after President Alvaro Uribe publicly offered to ensure her safety if she surrendered. Karina had been linked by Colombian media to the death of Uribe's father, a wealthy rancher, during a botched kidnapping attempt, and she apparently feared that she would be summarily executed if she tried to turn herself in. After her defection, Karina denied any involvement in the operation that led to the death of the president's father.