Los Angeles Times
May 23, 2008
BOGOTA, COLOMBIA -- Citing evidence gleaned from a dead rebel's computers, this country's chief prosecutor announced Thursday that he was investigating suspected illegal links between Colombia's largest rebel group and several prominent Colombians and foreigners, including a U.S. consultant.
Mario Iguaran also said he had asked the Supreme Court to investigate similar suspicions about three opposition lawmakers. Only the high court can bring charges against sitting legislators.
The investigations are based on evidence taken from laptops recovered from the camp of Raul Reyes, second-ranking commander of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.
Colombian forces killed Reyes in a March 1 bombing raid in Ecuador, setting off a regional crisis.
None of the 12 suspects, including leftist Sen. Piedad Cordoba and former U.S. university professorJames Jones, have been charged and Jones told the Associated Press that the allegation was "ludicrous." His only contact with the rebel group was in 2003 during an effort to help mediate the release of three U.S. hostages, he said.
The FARC is classified by the Colombian and U.S. governments as a terrorist group, and any contact can be viewed as a crime. But the legal implications of such contact were muddied last year when Colombian President Alvaro Uribe authorized Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Cordoba to negotiate the release of FARC hostages.
A week ago, Interpol said it had found no indication that anyone had tampered with Reyes' computer files. That announcement gave credence to -- but did not prove -- allegations by Colombian officials that the files pointed to Venezuelan and Ecuadorean support for the rebels.
Two Colombian journalists, William Parra and Carlos Lozano, are among those being investigated.
Special correspondent Jenny Carolina Gonzalez contributed to this report.