FARC asks US to pardon leader as peace talks restart

November 24, 2012 - 4:19:20 am



HAVANA: Colombia’s leftist FARC rebels yesterday asked the US president to pardon one of their leaders serving a 60-year sentence in a US supermax prison to allow him to participate in peace talks underway in Havana.

Rebels have repeatedly asked President Barack Obama to show leniency to Simon Trinidad, a FARC commander convicted of kidnapping three Americans in Colombia, to allow him to take up his role on the negotiating team.

“We are calling on the president of the United States, in using his power to pardon, to enable Simon Trinidad, FARC peace delegate, to be physically present at the talks in Havana,” FARC commander Ricardo Tellez said.

“The US would make an immense contribution to peace in Colombia with this humanitarian gesture,” he added, reading from a statement. Tellez made the call before yesterday’s negotiating session with the government began - after a scheduled break on Thursday -- in talks that have raised hopes of an end to Latin America’s longest-running conflict. The delegations are to meet through the weekend, before another break on Monday, intended to allow the two sides to work separately.  The final session of this round of the high-stakes talks, which follows the formal launch in Oslo on October 18, is then set for Tuesday through Thursday. The last bid to forge a peaceful resolution ended in failure a decade ago. The Latin America’s largest rebel group, founded in 1964 and believed to have some 9,000 fighters - took up arms to protest the concentration of land ownership in Colombia.AFP