FARC’s Santrich rearrested after suicide attempt in Bogotá’s La Picota


The former commander of the Southern Bloc of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla and member of the Secretariat, Seauxis Paucias Hernández, known by his wartime alias “Jesús Santrich,” was reported Friday morning to be injured inside Bogotá’s maximum security prison La Picota – two days after his release was ordered by the peace tribunal Special Jurisdiction for Peace (Jurisdicción Especial para la Paz–JEP).

According to Colombia’s Ministry of Justice, Santrich attempted to commit suicide by cutting his wrists with a shaving knife inside his prison cell.

Santrich was arrested April 9, 2018, for allegedly conspiring to ship 10 tonnes of cocaine to the United States after the peace process was signed between the Colombian Government and FARC in 2016. Santrich has denied that he was conspiring to ship cocaine to the U.S with members of Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel. The former peace negotiator has claimed his arrest was a “trophy” for U.S President Donald Trump ahead of an official visit to Cartagena.

On Wednesday, Colombia’s top law enforcement official, Chief Prosecutor Néstor Humberto Martínez resigned in protest over the decision by JEP to throw out the extradition order, stating that the Fiscalia General de la Nación presented the evidence against Santrich with videos and phone call intercepts.

But according to JEP’s chief justice Patricia Linares Prieto, the decision to order the release of Santrich was based on the lack of clarity as to the exact date in which Santrich was wire-tapped by the Drug Enforcement Agency.

The JEP ruling has unleashed a political and legal crisis in Colombia over the role of JEP to order the release of Santrich despite all the evidence collected by the Chief Prosecutor’s Office during a six-month-long investigation. Santrich is wanted in a New York City court by prosecutors as the drug shipment was destined there in 2017.

According to FARC sympathizers waiting outside La Picota, the arrival of the ambulance was delayed, a claim the Ministry of Justice has denied. William Ruíz, director of Colombia’s prison service INPEC, confirmed: “Santrich is stable as we are ready to offer all our medical support.”

JEP was established between former President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC as a parallel legal system and tribunal dedicated to resolving war crimes involving demobilized combatants.

A Bogotá court applied Friday afternoon the “Habeas Corpus” recourse after Santrich’s attempted suicide. For critics of the JEP ruling, compounded by Friday’s events inside La Picota, the injuries Santrich sustained were minor and pretext for the former commander to escape justice.

Developing story: After Santrich received “Habeas Corpus” recourse from the Superior Tribunal of Bogotá, the former guerrilla was re-arrested by the Chief Prosecutor’s Office on drug trafficking charges.