The Luis Fernando Almario Rojas Case (January 22, 2017)

Source:  CART EDIT
Author:  Gregoire Ancellin
January 22, 2017 (Original publication in Spanish on December 29, 2016)
Translation: Jorge B.
The Canadian Association for Rights and Truth (CART) expresses its satisfaction with the release on probation of Luis Fernando Almario Rojas, who was freed the morning of Wednesday, December 27, 2016.
Luis Fernando Almario Rojas had been imprisoned in La Picota (Bogota) since July 4, 2012. On March 16, 2016, the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice had found the former Congressman from Caquetá guilty of “conspiracy to commit a crime” and “voter constraint” and sentenced him to 10 years in prison. On that occasion, CART had expressed concern about the absence of legitimacy of such conviction, based solely on contradictory testimonies of former paramilitaries and guerrillas.
While the sentence as such was questionable, CART showed that Mr. Almario Rojas’s detention exceeded the maximum time allowed by law: to date, with time served in jail, he would have had the right to probation 18 months ago.
Luis Fernando Almario Rojas in 2016
In January 2015, CART began its investigative work on the case of Luis Fernando Almario Rojas. Members of CART interviewed Luis Fernando’s relatives a few times to carefully assess the defence’s and the family’s allegations. According to these allegations, the 27 witnesses who had testified against Luis Fernando Almario Rojas were “false ones.” As a result of our investigation, we decided to grant Mr. Almario Rojas and his family our logistic support for his defence.
On September 3, 2016, due that his detention could not be justified, CART filed a petition with the IACHR requesting that precautionary measures were implemented (reference number: MC-717-16). In turn, the full complaint against the Colombian State was sent on September 26, and is currently under study.
For 19 years Almario Rojas has received threats against his life and been the subject of continuous set-ups with manufactured witnesses to keep him judicialized and deprived of his freedom. Almario Rojas has been permanently linked to judicial proceedings since 1997 and deprived of his freedom from February 26, 1998, to December 17, 1999; from February 25, 2007, to May 5, 2009; and from July 4, 2012 to date.
CART reiterates its moral commitment to Luis Fernando Almario Rojas and his family and will continue to monitor that his individual freedoms are respected. Although we would like to congratulate the Colombian justice for its decision to grant his release on probation, it is our duty to remember that Mr. Almario Rojas was tried twice for the same crime of “conspiracy to commit a crime” (in 2007 and 2011), when he had been acquitted in 2007, which is a violation of the Constitution.
In an interview with CART, Luis Fernando told us that he wishes to continue his struggle, first of all, to defend his own case and to show the denial of justice by the Colombian State, and, second, to denounce the persecutions for years of which he, his wife and their three children have been victims. We share with Luis Fernando Almario Rojas the conviction that his struggle could serve other prisoners victims of false witnesses who have been declared guilty based on testimony from former guerrillas or paramilitaries.