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Supreme Court dismisses Reyes files as evidence

posted by Adriaan Alsema

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Colombia news - Raul Reyes

Documents found on computers of slain FARC commander “Raul Reyes” are inadmissible as evidence in court as the material is illegally obtained and provides no evidence, Colombia’s Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.

The court said so in the case against former socialist congressman Wilson Borja, who had been charged of collaborating with the FARC based on material found on the computers retreived from the Ecuadorean camp of Reyes after it was bombed by the Colombian air force and raided by the Colombian army.

According to the court, the military officials who obtained the evidence were not authorized to gather evidence to be used in Colombian courts, because this falls under the responsibilities of the judicial police.

Except for the Prosecutor General’s Office “no other power in the country has the authority to bring evidence from abroad, even less when ignoring foreign authorities,” said the court.

The validity of the content of what was found on the computers can also not be verified as the alleged emails were copied into Word documents without indication of sender or receiver, the country’s highest court said.

The court also slammed the former administration and former President Alvaro Uribe for accusing Borja of criminal activities without having valid evidence.

Interpol subjected the computer files to forensic analysis testing back in 2008 and concluded that “Interpol found no evidence that user files were created, modified or deleted on any of the eight seized FARC computer exhibits following their seizure on March 1, 2008.”

Yet although vouching for the technical authenticity of the files, as opposed to the content on the FARC computers, Interpol did also acknowledge that Colombian authorities did not “conform to internationally recognized principles for handling electronic evidence,” which “may complicate validating this evidence for purposes of its introduction in a judicial proceeding.”

The ruling has great consequences for the prosecution of several trials against politicians and civilians who were accused by Uribe of having ties to the guerrilla group. In none of the cases will prosecutors be able to use material from the computers.

Borja immediately announced plans to sue the State for damages caused when he was openly accused of being an ally of the FARC and was not able to present himself in the 2010 elections. The representative also announced to sue each person, primarily Uribe and former Prosecutor General Mario Iguaran, for slander.

Dismissed Senator Piedad Cordoba accused Inspector General Alejandro Ordoñez of illegally removing her from the Senate as his argumentation to do so partly was based on material from the Reyes computers.

The court’s decision virtually ends all cases against public figures who were accused by the former government of collaborating with the FARC. The only politician whose case is still open is that of Cordoba.

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