Former rebel FARC commanders in Colombia have appeared at a historic tribunal where for the first time they were made to answer for kidnappings and forced disappearances. “We apologise to all of them, we will do the impossible so they can know the truth of what happened, we will assume our responsibilities,” said Rodrigo ‘Timochenko’ Londono, the leader of what was until recently the most powerful guerilla group in South America.
He was speaking at a tribunal that opened on Friday under a truth and reconciliation system agreed with the government to recognise the hundreds of thousands of victims of more than a half century of confrontation.
At the end of his appearance, the former guerilla leader reaffirmed to the press commitments to contribute “as far as possible” towards reparations for those affected and to never again exercise violence.
During their long and failed struggle for power, the FARC resorted to abductions for economic and political purposes. Thousands of hostages, including military, police and politicians were kept for years deep in the jungle before being rescued or released, with many others perishing in captivity. The prosecution has documented 8,163 victims of kidnapping involving the rebels.
The Special Jurisdiction for Peace (known by its Spanish abbreviation JEP) is examining the period between 1993 and 2012.
FARC pledged to confess their crimes and make reparations to the victims as part of the 2016 agreement that disarmed 7,000 fighters and led to the group becoming a political party.
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