March 9, 2021

The Prosecutor’s Office accuses a FARC dissident of instigating riots with 23 dead prisoners



The Colombian Attorney General’s Office denounced this Sunday that alias “Romaña”, one of the leaders of the FARC dissent, was the instigator of the riots in several jails in the country that on March 21 left 23 inmates dead and 83 wounded.

“It has been known that behind these events are leaders of the ELN armed groups and FARC dissidents, pointing out Henry Castellanos Garzón, alias ‘Romaña,’ as one of those responsible,” said the attorney general, Francisco Barbosa.

According to Barbosa, investigators from the Prosecutor’s Office have collected material that shows that “Romaña”, one of the most feared guerrillas of the former FARC guerrillas and the author of mass kidnappings in the 1990s, is behind the revolts of prisoners who apparently they were to demand protective measures against the coronavirus.

ONGOING INVESTIGATIONS

Barbosa explained that since the riots occurred, he assigned a team of prosecutors assigned to the direction of the Technical Investigations Corps (CTI) to make the inquiries.

For this, two lines of investigation were opened: one regarding the death of the 23 prisoners in the La Modelo prison in Bogotá, and another focused on those who were behind the riots.

However, the prosecutor did not give details of the evidence against “Romaña”, whose whereabouts have been unknown since the middle of last year, when he took up arms as a dissident of the demobilized Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), nor of the alleged connection of guerrillas of the National Liberation Army (ELN).

“I must indicate that it is not possible to accept that these people continue to instigate disorders in prisons using people who, out of humanity, must get out of them,” he said, referring to those who may be benefited with an release from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Romaña” is one of the guerrillas who in August 2019 abandoned the peace agreement signed in 2016 by the Government of Colombia and the FARC and joined a dissent with Luciano Marín, alias “Iván Márquez”, and Seuxis Paucias Hernández, alias “Jesús Santrich”.

Since last August 29, when they appeared in a video announcing their return to arms alleging breaches of the agreement by the Government, the authorities do not know the whereabouts of the three former guerrilla leaders, although it is believed that they continue to operate from Venezuela.

“MINIMALIST” RELEASE

Barbosa also referred to the request that was made to the Government to allow the release of prisoners, mainly those close to serving their sentences, due to the poor sanitary conditions in the prisons to face the pandemic.

“The release from prisons must be minimalist,” said Barbosa, who believes that this measure is not massive, as some sectors have suggested.

He stressed that the Prosecutor’s Office supports the Minister of Justice, Margarita Cabello Blanco, and the Government “so that they quickly proceed to issue the decree that will alleviate the conditions of those who truly need to be released from prisons due to their fragile condition within the framework of this epidemic”.

The situation in the Colombian prisons worries the authorities of the country, who on Saturday confirmed the death by coronavirus of two inmates who were in the Villavicencio prison, capital of the department of Meta (center), and the hospitalization of a third inmate with disease symptoms.

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