David Ravelo free!

News from Colombia | on: Monday, 3 July 2017

After more than seven years in prison, David Ravelo has finally been released. His release comes in the context of the peace process and the creation of legislation which allows for political activists who have served more than five years to have their cases reviewed by the new transitional court system, commonly referred to in Colombia as the JEP.

David Ravelo was falsely accused of being involved in the murder of a state department employee which took place in 1991. The main witness testifying against him was a well-known paramilitary called El Panadero, whose crimes David had himself worked to expose as part of his involvement with the human rights organisation CREDHOS.

El Panadero had been sentenced to a prison sentence for his involvement in a 1998 massacre which left seven dead and 25 more missing. However, ten years later he presented himself as an ex-member of the FARC and began to appear as a state witness of cases against alleged FARC members. It was in this context that he acted as the principal witness in the case brought against David Ravelo.

In addition to the false testimony, it was later shown that the principal prosecutor in the cvase against David had years before been charged with involvement in the disappearance and assumed murder of a young man – he was in theory suspended from acting as state prosecutor.

In spite of all of the irregularities however, including the imprisonment in 2014 of El Panadero for false witness statements, David remained in jail with appeals rejected one after the other.

The hope is now that a revision of the case in the special transitional court system will put an end once and for all to this long-running tale of persecution.

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