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Former colonel charged with giving weapons to fake Colombian rebels

by Anastasia Moloney | @anastasiabogota | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Thursday, 22 March 2012 11:18 GMT

It's the latest twist in a scandal involving the alleged fake demobilisation of dozens of rebel fighters

BOGOTA (TrustLaw) – A retired Colombian army colonel has been charged with providing weapons to a bogus rebel group in the latest twist of a scandal involving the alleged fake demobilisation of dozens of guerrilla members in the Andean nation.

Earlier this week, a state prosecutor from Colombia’s anti-corruption unit charged Colonel Hugo Castellanos with delivering weapons to a non-existent group of 62 left-wing FARC rebels.

The rebel group handed themselves in to the authorities in 2006, but last year a number of people who had laid down their arms said they had never actually belonged to the FARC, Colombia’s largest rebel group.

The former army official was also charged with embezzlement, procedural fraud and arms possession and trafficking.

Colombia’s former peace commissioner, Luis Carlos Restrepo, is also implicated in the scandal.

In February, the Colombian authorities issued an arrest warrant after Restrepo failed to attend eight court appointments for his alleged role in faking the demobilisation of rebels.

Restrepo, who served as peace commissioner from 2002 to 2009, is accused of allegedly recruiting and paying homeless and unemployed people around $285 each to pose as FARC rebels in order to inflate the number of rebel fighters who had demobilised under the previous government of Alvaro Uribe.

Restrepo, who denies any wrongdoing, fled Colombia in January and his current whereabouts are unknown.

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