Supreme Court Says Evidence from FARC Computers is Illegal

News from Colombia | on: Saturday, 21 May 2011

The Colombian Supreme Court has declared that evidence from the computers allegedly belonging to murdered FARC Commander Raul Reyes being used against former Congressman Wilson Borja, does not fulfil legal prerequisites and is therefore illegal. The decision will have a huge effect on the many cases that the government opened up against journalists, trade unionists and members of the political opposition on the basis of information allegedly contained in the computers seized in the Colombian army raid on a FARC camp in Ecuadorean territory in 2008.

The Court has decided that the evidence was illegally seized in a foreign country without following due process and that the Colombian agents that seized the computers were not qualified to do so. The Court in effect recognised that the Colombian attack on the FARC base on Ecuadorean territory was a violation of Ecuadorean sovereignty and ran counter to various agreements previously signed between the two countries.

The Colombian government has attempted to use supposed evidence from these computers to prosecute numerous members of the political opposition and other critical voices for alleged links to the FARC guerrillas. Several previous cases were dropped after evidence from the computers was questioned and ruled out by more junior courts. The Supreme Court’s decision casts further doubt on the evidence found in the computers saying that what are called the “Raul Reyes Emails” are in reality Word documents that do not specify an “origin or a destination” and that “it is unknown if these documents travelled the net.”

‘Evidence’ from the computers was used in order to have former Senator Piedad Cordoba, a tireless campaigner for peace and a humanitarian exchange of prisoners between the government and the FARC, impeached and barred from office for 18 years. Evidence from the computers was also cited to request the extradition of Joaquin Perez Becerra, the Colombian journalist recently extradited to Colombia from Venezuela last month. Others such as academics and trade unionists such as Dr. Miguel Angel Beltran and Liliany Obando have been in prison for several years without being convicted of any crime on the back of the dubious evidence. It is hoped that this latest ruling will impact on these cases.

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