A judge in Colombia has ruled against Joaquín Pérez Becerra, director of the New Colombia News Agency (Anncol). He was charged with conspiracy.
Pérez Becerra was arrested on April 23, 2011, at the airport in Maiquetia, Venezuela, after the authorities of that country were alerted by the Colombian government, and after traveling from Sweden through Germany. Two days later he was deported to Bogota. Since then, Pérez Becerra has remained in the Modelo prison in the capital. He has always denied any link to the FARC.
However, on Tuesday the seventh judge specializing in Bogota announced the guilty ruling after a hearing in which he was acquitted of the charge of financing terrorist activities. On Monday, the judge will determine the length of sentence, which may exceed seven years in prison.
According to the judge, there were demonstrated links between Pérez Becerra, alias “Alberto Martinez,” with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), following the 17 testimonial and documentary evidence presented by the prosecuting body.
The anti-terrorism prosecutor had argued that the founder and director of Anncol ”is a member of the international commission of the FARC and since 1993 has been conducting such work from Sweden”, where the agency is established.
In a telephone interview with the agency AP, defense lawyer Rodolfo Rios said he would appeal the decision to the High Court in the capital. He argued that the prosecution “was wrong” to use as evidence the emails allegedly found on the computers of Raul Reyes, one of the leaders of the FARC who was shot by police in March 2008 in Ecuador [and which the Colombian Supreme Court earlier found inadmissible due to tampering by the state security forces].
But Perez Becerra also could request his extradition to Sweden, since although born in Colombia, he in 2000 adopted the nationality of the Scandinavian country, where he lived as a political refugee for more than two decades.