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Colombia's FARC says it killed ex-presidential candidate

October 4, 2020

The shooting of Colombian ex-presidential candidate Alvaro Gomez Hurtado in 1995 was widely thought to be the work of his political rivals. But in a letter to a special court for peace, FARC says it was behind the hit.

A FARC rebel holding a gun
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/EPA/C. E. Mora

Former commanders from Colombia's FARC rebel group have claimed responsibility for six murders, including that of conservative politician Alvaro Gomez Hurtado.

The admission was made in a letter to the Special Justice for Peace (JEP) tribunal, which is tasked with investigating crimes committed during more than five decades of armed conflict between the FARC and the government.

JEP said in a statement that the letter, signed by three ex-FARC commanders, aimed to "tell the truth, clarify the facts and take responsibility" for several killings between 1987 and 2002.

Answers in unsolved murder

The most high-profile victim was Gomez Hurtado — a three-time Conservative Party presidential candidate and son of ex-president Laureano Gomez — who was gunned down in Bogota on November 2, 1995.

Before the letter's revelation, it had widely been believed in Colombia that political rivals with links to the military and drug traffickers were behind the murder. 

Read moreColombia's shattered hopes of peace

Alvaro Gomez Hurtado speaks into a microphone
Alvaro Gomez Hurtado was shot and killed by gunmen on a motorcycle in the Colombian capital in 1995Image: AFP/Getty Images

Other killings on the list included that of lawmaker Pablo Emilio Guarin in 1987, army general Fernando Landazabal Reyes in 1998, and former peace adviser Jesus Antonio Bejarano in 1999.

From rebels to lawmakers

The letter is signed by former rebel commanders Julian Gallo, Pastor Alape and Pablo Catatumbo. Two of them, Gallo and Catatumbo, currently have seats in Congress.

Colombia: Refugees in their own country

As part of a peace agreement signed in 2016, FARC rebels handed over their weapons and formed a political party. Under the deal, the group's leaders pledged to confess their crimes before the JEP and to compensate their victims. If they fail to keep that commitment, they will face ordinary justice.

Colombia's armed conflict has left more than 260,000 people dead since 1958 and displaced almost 8 million.

nm/mm (AFP, dpa)