Staff undermining Colombia tribunal trying former…

BOGOTA, Sept 7 – Officials from the special Colombian tribunal tasked with trying crimes related to the country’s five decades of conflict may have covered up the non-compliance of several former rebel commanders with a peace accord, the attorney general said on Friday.

The Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) tribunal, founded under a 2016 peace deal between the government and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels, will try cases considered representative of the war’s violence and mete out sentences to ex-guerrillas, paramilitaries and government soldiers convicted of war crimes and human rights violations.

Some tribunal staff have hidden that former rebel commanders are not following the terms of the accord, attorney general Nestor Humberto Martinez said.

“The attorney general’s office has evidence that some unscrupulous officials are cooking up falsehoods and procedural fraud so the Special Jurisdiction for Peace won’t act as it should,” Martinez said. “For that reason we have opened an investigation by a special prosecutor that will produce decisions shortly.”

Martinez did not name the officials or the ex-commanders they are alleged to have helped, but his comments came one day after the U.N. Verification Mission in Colombia, which manages two dozen rebel reintegration zones, said six ex-guerrilla commanders were failing to fulfill their obligations under the deal and had left the camps.

The six missing commanders include Hernan Dario Velasquez, known as by his nom de guerre El Paisa, and Henry Castellanos, known as Romana, a source who works at an organization that closely follows the peace process said.

Velasquez was convicted in absentia for ordering a 2003 Bogota bombing that killed 36 people. Castellanos was allegedly involved in drug trafficking and well-known kidnappings.

The other commanders’ noms de guerre are Ivan Ali, Albeiro Cordoba, Enrique Marulanda and El Zarco Aldinever, the source said.

“If the Attorney General has detected there are people who were part of the demobilization, disarmament and reintegration process who continued criminal activities, he should proceed with the investigations,” President Ivan Duque, who was elected on promises to modify the FARC deal, said after an event with the country’s provincial governors.

Most of the more than 6,000 former FARC fighters who demobilized last year were given amnesty and financial help, but many commanders are expected to appear before the tribunal.

The JEP did not immediately respond to a request for comment. (Reporting by Julia Symmes Cobb and Luis Jaime Acosta Editing by Leslie Adler)

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