Colombia issues arrest warrant for former peace commissioner Luis Carlos Restrepo

Colombia has issued an arrest warrant for the former peace commissioner, Luis Carlos Restrepo, following allegations he paid people to pose as left-wing FARC rebels and turn themselves in.

The BBC reports that the warrant was put out after Restrepo failed to attend eight scheduled court appearances.

He had been summoned after a group who had handed themselves in as FARC rebels in 2006, later testified that they had never belonged to the group. The BBC says they were unemployed people and criminals from poor neighborhoods of the capital Bogota who said they had been paid to pose as rebels and inflate the number of Farc rebels who had demobilized.

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AP quotes a top prosecutor, Nestor Novoa, as saying that Restrepo left Colombia on Jan. 8. The news agency says that makes Restrepo the third former close associate of the former president Alvaro Uribe to leave the country to avoid facing criminal charges.

The former head of the secret police, the DAS, Maria del Pilar Hurtado, was granted political asylum in Panama after she was accused of illegal phone tapping, the BBC says, and the Former Interior Minister Sabas Pretelt de la Vega left his post as Ambassador to Rome for Costa Rica after he was accused of bribery. Both have denied the allegations against them.

Restrepo served as peace commissioner from 2002 to 2009, and was praised by the then president for his attempts at stamping out the left-wing rebel group. Restrepo faces criminal charges carrying a minimum prison sentence of six years including conspiracy and trafficking for private use of military weapons, another AP report says.

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