viernes, junio 06, 2008


German Left Wing May Have Ties to Colombian Extremists

According to data found on a laptop confiscated by Colombian authorities, the terrorist group FARC may have had ties to left-wing politicians in Germany. E-mails found on the computer, confiscated after the recent killing of FARC commander Reyes, show that his son visited Berlin.

"Dear Berlin..." This undated handout photo from Interpol shows former FARC commander Raúl Reyes at his computer.

The Colombian guerrilla group FARC isn't just well connected in the region. According to e-mails found on the laptop of the recently killed FARC commander Raúl Reyes, the group, listed by the European Union as a terrorist organization, also has close ties to the far left in Germany.

Data found on the computer, confiscated following the March bombing raid carried out by Colombia on a guerrilla camp across the border in Ecuador, indicate that Reyes sent his son, Ariel Robespierre Devia, on a secret trip to Berlin in January 2005. It also suggests that while in Germany, Devia, who goes by his alias "Roberto," met with Wolfgang Gehrcke, then a member of the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) -- the successor party to the East German Communist party -- and now a member of the German parliament with the Left Party and the party's foreign affairs spokesman.

E-mails on the computer indicate that, according to "Roberto," Gehrcke suggested that the PDS could back a bid in the European Parliament to remove FARC from the list of terrorist organizations. "It was a very positive meeting," "Roberto" wrote. "We were able to solidify a number of points to reactivate the solidarity with the fight of the Colombian people."

"Roberto" also met with representatives of the German Communist Party, and the left-wing daily Junge Welt allegedly offered to assist the FARC publication Resistencia.

In June 2007, the Left Party circulated a proposal that FARC be removed from the European Union's list of terrorist groups.

The indications of ties between FARC and the German far left come as the computer files found on the laptop continue to fuel regional tensions. Based on documents found on the computer's hard drive, Colombia has accused Venezuela of having close ties to FARC and of supporting the organization. In response, Venezuela accused Bogotá of having manipulated the computers -- though the international law enforcement agency Interpol has since confirmed the authenticity of the Reyes computer.

Earlier this week, Colombia launched a criminal probe into politicians from both Ecuador and Venezuela for alleged ties to FARC. Colombia's head prosecutor Mario Iguaran is also going after other foreigners and journalists on allegations of similar connections. FARC has long been involved in cocaine production, but is also guilty of staging a number of high-profile kidnappings and has held former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt since 2002. The group has also carried out a number of bomb attacks. FARC continues to insist it stands for political reform and human rights in Colombia.

Colombian justice, however, has not just been busy going after the extreme left in the country. More than 30 members of Colombia's parliament, most of them allies of President Alvaro Uribe, have been jailed or are under investigation for close ties with the country's numerous right-wing paramilitary groups. In mid-May, Uribe's government extradited 14 paramilitary leaders to the US to face drug trafficking charges, in an effort to show he is taking a hard line against the armed groups.

Many, however, have criticized the move. Human rights activists say it prevents the warlords from being tried for violent crimes they allegedly committed in Colombia. Others say that Uribe sent them out of the country out of fear that a trial in Colombia could further expose his party's ties to paramilitary organizations.


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