Colombia ex-rebel halts hunger strike as extradition lingers

Posted by On 1:12 PM

Colombia ex-rebel halts hunger strike as extradition lingers

A former rebel ideologue who helped craft Colombia's 2016 peace deal has suspended a 41-day hunger strike after a special peace tribunal cast doubt on his expected extradition to the U.S. on drug charges.

Seuxis Hernandez said in a letter read Saturday by a member of the political party started by the disbanded Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia that he decided to answer the calls of multiple supporters and was "temporarily suspending" his strike. Instead he said he would redouble his efforts to help successfully implement the 2016 peace accord seeking an end to decades of bloody conflict.

"My situation is a calculated accident that can be extended to any political member of the FARC," he wrote in the defiant missive. "If we don't put a stop to it, it can lead the peace process to a definitive cliff."

Jairo Estrada, a high-ranking member of the FARC â€" as the former rebels' political party is knownâ€" said Hernandez had lost 16 kilograms (35 pounds) as a result of the water-only fast he began in April to protest his arrest on a U.S. drug warrant. In recent days he was hospitalized and later transferred to a church-run halfway house.

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Interior Minister Guillermo Rivera said Hernandez's decision to halt his hunger strike was "good news" for the peace process.

Colombia's peace tribunal this week said Hernandez cannot be extradited until it determines the dates of his alleged crimes. It also suggested it wanted to review Hernandez's arrest, a move that drew an angry rebuke from Colombia's chief pr osecutor, who accused the tribunal of overstepping its authority.

New York prosecutors allege that Hernandez, who is better known by his alias Jesus Santrich, conspired with informants posing as members of a Mexican drug cartel to export 10 tons of cocaine to the U.S. after the rebel group demobilized.

Under terms of the accord aimed at ending Latin America's longest-running conflict, rebels who lay down their weapons and confess their war crimes to special peace tribunals are to be spared jail time and extradition. But they aren't protected for crimes committed after the December 2016 signing.

Hernandez's arrest had put a major strain on relations between the government and the former rebels. One of his closest allies, the former chief negotiator known as Ivan Marquez, has since fled to a rural camp where rebels are making the transition to civilian life, warning that he would be the next to fall as part of a U.S.-backed plot to sabotage the peace deal. Arrested along with Hernandez was Marquez's nephew, who has since confessed his crimes and agreed to cooperate with U.S. prosecutors.

Source: Google News Colombia | Netizen 24 Colombia

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