Spanish Judge Releases Alleged FARC Member

By Dialogo
February 17, 2011

On 16 February, a Spanish judge decided to release an alleged FARC member detained two days earlier in Madrid on suspicion of being a “liaison” for the Colombian guerrilla group in Europe, judicial sources reported.

Judge Santiago Pedraz of the National High Court, Spain’s chief criminal court, decided to release Leyla Yolita O.M., 39, believing that she is not a flight risk, contrary to the opinion of the public prosecutor’s office, and taking into account the fact that she has refugee status.

“There are no grounds for granting the precautionary measure of pretrial detention; the flight risk may be characterized as non-existent, given that she has refugee status in Spain and not in a third country to which she might flee,” the judge affirmed in his ruling, to which AFP had access.

Nevertheless, Pedraz prohibited the detainee from leaving Spain and ordered her to keep the authorities informed of her whereabouts.

On the day of the ruling, Leyla Yolita appeared before the judge, where she denied belonging to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and affirmed that she only belongs to the Communist Party and that she is “politically persecuted by her country,” the sources added.

Leyla Yolita was detained in Madrid as part of “Operation Cali,” on suspicion of being a “member of the FARC-EP terrorist organization,” according to a police statement.

According to Spanish law-enforcement authorities, the detainee “was responsible for specific liaison, support, and intermediary functions in Europe,” for which she was “in contact with members of this terrorist organization” and facilitated “their intervention in international forums.”

“She was sought by Colombian judicial authorities for membership in that terrorist gang and for carrying out activities on behalf of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia,” an organization included on the European Union (EU) lists of terrorist groups.