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Colombia releases and rearrests key FARC member wanted by US

Sinikka Tarvainen, DPA on

Published in News & Features

BOGOTA, Colombia -- Colombian authorities on Friday released and immediately rearrested a former FARC guerrilla commander wanted by the United States, after he suffered injuries in prison.

Seuxis Hernandez, known as Jesus Santrich, is at the center of disagreements between President Ivan Duque and the country's post-conflict justice system, the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP).

Critics see the crisis between the government and the JEP as threatening the peace process with FARC.

A Bogota court on Friday ordered the immediate release of Santrich after the JEP blocked his extradition to the U.S. earlier this week.

Following the ruling he was seen in a wheelchair outside the Bogota penitentiary, but was immediately taken back to prison.

He was then reported to have been taken by helicopter to prosecutors' premises.

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Prosecutors said new evidence had been found that he had engaged in drug trafficking, the crime for which he is wanted by the U.S.

Earlier in the day, Santrich was reported to have suffered minor injuries in his cell. Prison authorities said he had inflicted the wounds on himself and was receiving medical attention.

Santrich's supporters and opponents were both demonstrating outside the prison, where large numbers of riot police officers were deployed.

The JEP was created after Duque's predecessor, Juan Manuel Santos, signed a peace deal with FARC in 2016.

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