A Colombian police investigator admitted to manipulating evidence against activist Liliany Obando which was recovered from FARC leader “Raul Reyes” computers, found in the cross-border raid in Ecuador in 2008, reports Europa Press.
When asked by a prosecutor if the police official had “opened and manipulated information before that information was subject to judicial review, in the absence of legal authorization to do so,” investigator Ronald Coy replied, “yes sir.”
The policeman is testifying in the case against Obando, a Colombian trade unionist and human rights defender, who was arrested on August 8, 2008 and accused of raising money for the FARC.
The evidence of Obando’s links to the guerrilla organization were allegedly found in the Raul Reyes computers, which the prosecution said also contained personal emails between Reyes and Obando that suggested a romantic relationship between the two.
Coy had earlier testified that no e-mails were found on the computer.
Obando and her defense have always maintained that she was raising money for Colombia’s largest agricultural union FENSUARGO.
According to James Brittain, a Canadian professor who has campaigned for Obando’s release, the trade unionist was arrested the week she wrote a report on the murder of 1,500 FENSUARGO members over the last 30 years.
Obando’s defense attorney Eduardo Matias says that Ronald Coy’s confession means that the prosecution against his client now has no legal basis.
“There was … an abuse of authority in violation of due process and therefore the proof can not be considered as evidence in criminal proceedings,” the lawyer said.
Following the Colombian raid on Ecuadorean soil which killed FARC leader Raul Reyes, Ecuador’s public prosecution released a report alleging that Colombian authorities manipulated the computer files before handing them over to the international police force Interpol.
Interpol’s investigation found no evidence that the files had been tampered with after March 3, but said that Colombian authorities “did not always follow internationally accepted methods for handling computer evidence.”
The international police organization also acknowledged that it had never performed a physical electro-magnetic exam of the hard discs, which according to Interpol is the only valid way to retrieve a copy of computer content.
According to the analysis of the Ecuadorean prosecution, Colombia did tamper with the files before March 3. The report says that all 45 files handed over to Ecuador have the same creation, last modified and last viewed date. The timestamps on 40 of those files are before March 1, indicating that Colombia never opened the files they sent to Ecuador.
If Colombia had not tampered the files, the creation, last modified and last viewed dates would all be different and the last viewed date would have to be between March 1 and March 3.
The files captured during the raid have been cited as evidence in numerous accusations by the Colombian government in the past two years against people who have alleged links to the FARC.