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The Colombian Prosecutor’s Office calls Timochenko and Lozada to testify for the murder of Álvaro Gómez Hurtado

Julián Gallo, also known as Carlos Antonio Lozada, during a FARC advertisement.YAMIL LAGE / AFP

The statement by former FARC guerrilla and today Senator Julián Gallo, also known as Carlos Antonio Lozada, about his participation in the assassination of conservative leader Álvaro Gómez Hurtado has shaken the establishment Colombian, as happened 25 years ago with the murder, and has put the peace agreement between the State and that guerrilla to the test. “I executed the order to assassinate Gómez Hurtado,” Gallo told the newspaper The viewer, thereby reaffirming a statement sent to the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) in which the defunct FARC guerrilla admitted its responsibility in six homicides of national impact. Although the statement was made before the JEP, which is the Peace Tribunal created in the peace agreements, this Wednesday the Prosecutor’s Office has called Gallo and Rodrigo Londoño to testify under oath, Timochenko.

“The Prosecutor’s Office will continue with the taking of evidence, tending to clarify the facts, the authors or participants where Dr. Álvaro Gómez Hurtado and his assistant José Huertas died, in accordance with the principle of harmonious collaboration that must exist between the State institutions” , reported the entity. At the end of the day, the JEP also made its own call to both former guerrilla chiefs to present a voluntary version and asked the Prosecutor’s Office to “expand the reports on the crimes committed during and during the armed conflict, with the referral of the copies of the files that may be in his possession referring to those six homicides ”.

The decision implies that there are parallel investigations and that, as experts warn, there may be a clash between the transitional justice (JEP) and the ordinary justice (Prosecutor’s Office) in this case. Months before the FARC’s confession, President Iván Duque had asked the attorney general, Francisco Barbosa, to prioritize the investigation, which will be 25 years old this November 2 without a clear answer for the relatives of the murdered leader. Both Duque and Barbosa studied at the Sergio Arboleda University, of which Gómez Hurtado was a co-founder.

Although the Duque government has repeatedly demanded that former guerrillas tell the truth about the crimes committed during the conflict, the confession did not satisfy the president. This Wednesday he assured that Gallo should leave his seat in Congress, which he arrived as part of the peace accords. “As this does not depend on individual will, we hope that any of the applicable forms of justice for scenarios of acceptance of responsibility for crimes against humanity entail that no parliamentary representation can be exercised. It should immediately lose the connotation of a member of the Congress of the Republic, ”said Duque.

The Peace Commissioner, Miguel Ceballos, also spoke in this regard and said that once the authorship of the crime is verified, the JEP must restrict the freedom of Senator Gallo and also Pablo Catatumbo. His words questioned whether Ceballos knew the details of the peace agreement, which allows former guerrilla leaders to participate in politics and at the same time deliver information about the conflict to the JEP in exchange for legal benefits. “It seems that the commissioner had not read the peace agreement: the duty of ex-guerrillas is to tell the truth. They cannot lose the benefits precisely for telling the truth, however painful that truth may be, ”said Rodrigo Uprimny, a researcher at the NGO Dejusticia.

FARC party senator Julián Gallo said he will not resign from Congress. “If the political class that has run Colombia has historically been afraid of something, it is the truth,” said Gallo, who at the time of the assassination was the commander of the guerrilla Antonio Nariño Urban Network.

Gómez Hurtado was a reputed conservative leader and member of the Constituent Assembly, who wrote the current political letter in 1991. In the 1960s he was a staunch critic of the guerrilla and in the 1990s, during the government of Ernesto Samper, he demanded that progress be made in the investigations into the entry of money from the mafia to the presidential campaign. For years the family has connected Gómez Hurtado’s complaints against Samper with the homicide; although there are other hypotheses that involved the alleged participation of paramilitaries and drug traffickers of the Norte del Valle cartel. Until now, none of the investigations targeted the FARC guerrillas.