Colombia suspends extradition of FARC leader to US

A Colombian court set up to try crimes committed by former leftist rebels during decades of conflict on Thursday suspended the extradition of a former FARC leader wanted in the United States.

Prosecutors in New York accuse Jesus Santrich of conspiring to ship 10,000 kilograms of cocaine to the United States while serving as a senior member of the FARC leadership.

They are pushing for his extradition along with three others who are also allied with the group.

The special tribunal decided to suspend Santrich’s extradition “for a 10-day probationary period,” tribunal chairman Jesus Bobadilla told reporters.

The partially-sighted Santrich, 51, has been on hunger-strike since April 10.

Magistrates will meanwhile examine if he is guilty of the crimes the US said he committed after the signing of the peace agreement with the government, which ended half a century of conflict in Colombia.

The former guerrilla leader was arrested on April 9 and was transferred last week to a Catholic clinic in Bogota due to his deteriorating health.

Santrich’s arrest was denounced by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC), with a spokesman warning it could deal a damaging blow to the landmark 2016 peace deal.

The group accused Colombia’s prosecutors of colluding with a plan “orchestrated by the US government,” describing it as yet another display of “twisted US justice.”