PANAMA CITY – One of the six Colombians arrested last week by Panamanian police in an armed clash in the eastern jungle province of Darien admitted to being a member of the FARC guerrillas, officials said this week.
The Panamanian Public Ministry said in a communiqué that although the arrested men have refused to provide statements to the authorities, despite being protected by an article in the Constitution, one of them confirmed that he belongs to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, which operates in the border area between Colombia and Panama.
Based on that declaration, Panamanian judicial authorities found to be unfounded the version of one of the detained men’s defense lawyers, who had claimed that they were merely local fishermen and not guerrillas.
The six Colombians, who are facing charges for crimes against the public health – a charge that normally is brought for drug trafficking violations – and illegal transport of firearms, were captured when they were carrying out acts of violence against Panamanian National Police officers and civilians in the region, the communiqué said.
After the men’s capture, the statement added, authorities “recovered in the possession of the investigated men AK-47 rifles, uniforms, caps with identifications, explosives, and in addition … the boat in which they were getting around had high levels of contamination from illicit drugs.”
At press time, Colombia had not requested the men’s extradition.