The case of Simón Trinidad, leader of the former armed guerrilla organization Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), who was extradited to the United States in 2004 and sentenced to 60 years in prison in the US, was accepted by Colombia’s transitional justice system, whose Amnesty and Pardon Chamber (SAI) will study his judicial situation.
Sources of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) announced on Thursday, September 28, that the appeal filed by Trinidad’s defense was accepted and that the study of five criminal proceedings against him will begin, as well as the investigation of his possible involvement in 116 other proceedings.
The JEP’s acceptance of the former guerrilla leader’s request suggests the judicial body recognizes Trinidad as a participant in the armed confrontation between the Colombian state and the FARC. This opens the way for him to receive an amnesty in Colombia, as has happened with all the former FARC combatants who signed the 2016 Peace Accords.
Colombian legal experts believe that although Trinidad is still incarcerated in the maximum security prison of Florence, Colorado, USA, he should consider acceptance in the JEP procedure as a personal triumph.
Milton Silva, a specialist in transitional justice, told La Jornada that as a gateway to a model of restorative justice this case is substantial so that former combatants are not treated as common criminals but as politicians, which marks an important difference with the ordinary justice system.
Ramiro Orjuela, who was Simón Trinidad’s lawyer before his extradition to the US, considered that, for now, this opens the possibility for Trinidad to communicate again with his defense in Colombia, although through virtual hearings, breaking the isolation to which he has been subjected for 19 years. “Simón has accumulated a great political and intellectual experience and has much to contribute to Colombia, so now we will be able to know his version of the armed conflict and the participation of different sides in it,” said the lawyer.
Human rights organizations that have been attentive to Trinidad’s situation and promoting campaigns for his release, denouncing his solitary confinement of more than 10 years in an underground cell in a maximum security US prison where the light is never turned off, and where he is allowed only half an hour a week in the open air.
(La Jornada) by Jorge Enrique Botero
Translation: Orinoco Tribune
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