QUESTIONS FOR CEPEDA: Why did the FARC’s principal ally refuse to answer in court about chats on his phone one month after Santrich’s escape?

4. Was your refusal to submit your cell phone for forensic analysis, as petitioned by attorney Victor Mosquera in relation to your testimony before the Supreme Court of Justice in your case against Álvaro Uribe Vélez, in any way related to communications with Jesus Santrich, Iván Márquez or other fugitives from justice?

In the questions posed by former U.S. Congressman Connie Mack (R-FL) in his October 22 letter to Colombian Senator Iván Cepeda, this one points to the vital importance of transparency by public officials when faced with such troubling doubts about their integrity.  Cepeda has refused to be transparent and refused to provide answers to the public.

Yesterday, we explored the question about whether Cepeda had any communications with his close ally Jesus Santrich in the period between the day Cepeda escorted the FARC commander from detention on May 30, 2019, and the day he appeared in the infamous August 2019 video declaring war on the democratic government as a fugitive from justice.  Neither Congressman Mack nor the Colombian public have received a response. 

Here is why it’s important that we know the answer:

  • August 30, 2019: It is confirmed that Jesus Santrich has escaped to a FARC guerrilla camp and is now a fugitive of justice after a year-long campaign led by Cepeda to release him from jail and shield him from extradition to the United States to face a series of criminal indictments.
  • October 4, 2019: Cepeda was testifying before Supreme Court Judge Cesar Reyes as part of his sham legal case against former President Alvaro Uribe, which depends entirely on testimony that Cepeda induced from imprisoned former gang member Juan Guillermo Monsalve.  Cepeda was asked a simple question under oath by attorney Victor Mosquera: “Did you destroy any chats between Monsalve and yourself?” Reyes interrupted, and reminded Cepeda that should he answer in the affirmative, there could be criminal consequences and he could be incriminating himself.  Reyes then repeated the question.  Cepeda said: “Your Honor, I will not answer that question.”
  • September 1, 2020:  Nearly a year after refusing to answer about deleting chats with Monsalve and denying any forensic examination of his devices, Cepeda tells Radio La FM that he had dropped his cell phone long before, causing it to lose “an important amount” of data.  He also confirmed that the only chats held by the court were those Cepeda voluntarily submitted before the “unfortunate accident”.

There are a lot of questions packed into this one set of facts.  If Cepeda hadn’t done anything illegal like deleting self-incriminating chats with Monsalve about inducing testimony against Uribe, then why did he refuse to answer the question under oath?  If he has nothing to hide, why didn’t he volunteer on October 4, 2019, to hand over his cell phone – “damaged” or not — for forensic examination to absolutely clarify the question?  Wouldn’t all the data on Cepeda’s smart phone be backed up on the cloud?

So, Mack’s question goes to the heart of the most troubling aspect of these facts:  are there communications in that cell phone data, wherever it might be found, between Cepeda and Jesus Santrich that neither wants to be obtained by the courts in Colombia or the United States?

This might explain why Cepeda refused to answer Mosquera under oath before Judge Reyes, and continues to refuse to answer anything about his cell phone data.