Victims’ Leader Arrested in Colombia
News from Colombia |
on: Monday, 24 November 2008
The regional leader of the National Movement of Victims, MOVICE, in the Colombian department of Sucre has been arrested and accused of links to paramilitary death squads. Carmelo Agamez, Secretary of the Sucre chapter of MOVICE, is himself a victim of the paramilitaries and MOVICE have described his arrest as an effort to "criminalise and silence the voices of victims".
He was detained after presenting himself, along with his lawyer, at the regional offices of the Colombian Attorney General on November 15th whereupon he was questioned for three hours before being detained in the cells of the SIJIN secret police for five further days. He was subsequently transferred to the 'La Vega' jail in the city of Sincelejo, the capital of Sucre.
Mr Agamez had gone to the Attorney General's office after learning that police had raided his home at 1am on November 13th whilst he was away. The officers forced their way into the house, insulted his wife and ransacked the place before leaving with a warning that they would be returning to get her husband.
The local public prosecutor has accused Mr Agamez of meeting with and then benefiting from the support of paramilitaries during a 2002 local council election campaign. According to MOVICE the accusation is ludicrous as Mr Agamez was running as a candidate of the opposition and he and his supporters all received paramilitary death threats at the time.
MOVICE suggests that his detention may be linked to his denunciations of local politician Edgar Benito Revollo for corruption, or because of his role in organising a large conference in Sincelejo in 2007 for the victims of state-sponsored and paramilitary violence.