Bogota, Jul 7 (EFE).- Colombia’s Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) on Friday announced its first war-crimes charges against former mid-level commanders of the now-defunct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla group.
That court accused 10 former rebels of that organization’s Joint Central Command (CCC), which operated in the west-central Colombian departments of Tolima, Huila and Quindio, of bearing chief responsibility for kidnappings and other serious crimes stemming from those abductions.
Those charges come as part of a broader case known as Macrocaso 01 that has probed the high number of kidnappings carried out by the FARC.
The JEP, a transitional justice mechanism agreed by then-President Juan Manuel Santos’ administration and the FARC guerrillas as part of a peace deal signed in Havana in 2016, earlier brought charges in that same macro-case against the guerrilla group’s entire high command.
These 10 latest defendants are accused of a series of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including hostage-taking, homicide, cruel and inhumane treatment, slavery, sexual violence and torture.
Those suspects, eight of whom held leadership positions in the CCC, were deemed to be chiefly responsible for those crimes, one of the JEP’s judges, Julieta Lemaitre, said at a press conference.
The defendants allegedly carried out the policies designed by the FARC’s Secretariat, or high command, in the area of kidnapping, which was used to finance the guerrilla’s operations, force prisoner exchanges and exert territorial control, according to the JEP.
The CCC had as many as 1,180 members at its height, but it was the smallest of the FARC’s regional structures and proportionally carried out the fewest number of kidnappings.
Of a registered total of 5,219 FARC kidnapping victims, 111 corresponded to that structure, or just 2 percent.
But the JEP judge said that the CCC “played an important role in the manner in which the now-defunct guerrilla group adopted the policy of financing itself through kidnappings.”
Lemaitre added that it was particularly important because its structure included the Manuelita Saenz Financial Committee.
She added that this body “created a complex system of financing” based on the use of extortion and kidnapping.
Additional charges in Macrocaso 01 also are expected to be brought by the JEP against other regional mid-level-command structures that were part of the FARC’s operation.
The JEP was created to judge collective crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the FARC, members of the public security forces and paramilitary fighters during Colombia’s decades-old armed conflict.
In cases in which those accused of serious crimes fully acknowledge truth and responsibility, restorative sanctions are imposed to redress the damage caused to victims.
These include five to eight years of effective restrictions on liberty, with no prison time, or between two to five years for those who indirectly participated in the crime.
However, ordinary sanctions apply to those who do not acknowledge truth and responsibility and are found guilty by the JEP’s Absence of Acknowledgement Section.
They consist of sentences of between 15 and 20 years in prison. EFE