Colombian rebels want text of peace deal made public

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 02, 2015 11:13 AM

By Nelson Acosta

HAVANA (Reuters) - Seeking to quell controversy back home, Colombia's leftist FARC guerrillas on Friday advocated making public the entire 18-page agreement they reached with the government last week to end their 50-year-long war within six months.

At peace talks in Cuba, the Colombian government and FARC have only published a two-page statement that they agreed to establish special courts to try former combatants including guerrillas, government soldiers and members of right-wing paramilitary groups.

While attempting to offer as much amnesty as possible, the courts would impose sharply reduced sentences for those who admit guilt and exclude from amnesty any war crimes or crimes against humanity.

The agreement has caused consternation in Colombia, where critics complain rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, might escape punishment or extradition to the United States, where some are wanted on drug-trafficking charges.

"The agreement should be published as soon as possible in order to avoid speculation or slanted misinterpretations about it contents," Ivan Marquez, the chief FARC negotiator, told reporters in Havana, the site of peace talks for nearly three years.

The government opposed publication now because the document is subject to change, a government spokeswoman said.

Peace talks resumed on Friday for the first time since a breakthrough on Sept. 23, when President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC leader Rodrigo Londono, better known as Timochenko, also agreed the FARC would lay down arms within 60 days of signing a peace deal, which has an official deadline of March 23, 2016.

If successful, it would end a conflict that has killed 220,000 people and displaced millions since 1964.

Half a century of war has embittered many Colombians who mistrust the peace talks or want harsher retribution for rebels.

Publishing the full 75-point agreement would answer questions about amnesty, the conditions of confinement, and the structure of the special courts, Marquez said.

The issue of extradition is also controversial. Timochenko, Marquez and other rebel leaders appear on the U.S. Kingpin List of major drug traffickers as some FARC units have formed an alliance with drug cartels.

Sergio Jaramillo, the government's peace commissioner, said last week the conditions under which rebels could be extradited would not be defined until there was a final peace deal.

"No one participates in a peace process and supports an agreement only to end up extradited, that's obvious," Jaramillo said.

(Reporting by Nelson Acosta; Editing by Daniel Trotta and Grant McCool)