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Uribe Seeks Trial for Chavez in International Court

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601086&sid=av8Hk0ffaBAE&refer=latin_america Uribe Seeks Trial for Chavez in International Court (Update3) By Helen
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 4, 2008

      Uribe Seeks Trial for Chavez in International Court

      By Helen Murphy and Joshua Goodman
      Enlarge Image/Details

      March 4 (Bloomberg) -- Colombian President Alvaro
      Uribe said he'll seek criminal charges in an
      international tribunal against Venezuelan President
      Hugo Chavez for his alleged support of guerrillas in
      the region.

      ``I'll present charges to the International Criminal
      Court against Hugo Chavez for financing and sponsoring
      genocide,'' Uribe said on Caracol Radio today.

      Colombia yesterday said it found evidence on the
      laptop of slain rebel leader Raul Reyes showing
      Venezuela had funneled at least $300 million to the
      Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as the
      FARC. Human rights organizations accuse the group of
      massacring civilians, using illegal land mines, and
      committing terrorist bombings.

      The laptop was seized March 1 when Colombia's military
      crossed into Ecuador to kill Reyes, the FARC's
      second-in- command. After years of international
      support for its counter- insurgency, Colombia finds
      itself diplomatically isolated in Latin America for
      taking the fight a mile into Ecuadorean territory.

      Uribe lashed out at his neighbors, seeking to regain
      the moral upper hand by taking accusations against
      Chavez to an international forum and revealing the
      alleged contents of Reyes' computer to show Colombia
      is the victim of aggression from across its border.

      Crimes Against Humanity

      The court, based in The Hague, tries individuals
      accused of crimes against humanity, war crimes and
      genocide. Colombia and Venezuela signed the treaty
      that set up the court in 2002.

      General Oscar Naranjo, head of Colombia's police, told
      Caracol Radio that documents from the laptop disclose
      FARC had been offered the opportunity to buy as much
      as 50 kilos of uranium at $2.5 million per kilo by an
      unnamed arms dealer.

      General Naranjo said the computer files also indicated
      Ecuadorean Security Minister Gustavo Larrea had been
      in contact with Reyes in a bid to get President Rafael
      Correa involved in the release of rebel-held hostages
      to boost his political standing.

      Larrea said yesterday he'd been in touch with Reyes
      only to try to negotiate the release of
      French-Colombian hostage Ingrid Betancourt, who has
      been in the FARC's hands since 2002, and that he did
      so with Uribe's knowledge.

      The Colombian president has denied he had been told
      about the meeting.

      `Deplorable Ties'

      ``Right now the government's focus is rightly on
      revealing to the world the deplorable ties between the
      FARC and the governments of Ecuador and Venezuela,''
      said Alfredo Rangel, a former member of Colombia's
      state Security Council and head of a Bogota research
      group. ``Once the outrage over their border incursion
      dies down, Chavez and Correa will get their turn to be
      in the hot seat.''

      Chavez and Correa denied the allegations and in turn
      accused Uribe's government of acting on the orders of
      the U.S. Ecuador and Venezuela both moved troops
      toward the border in response to the raid.

      During a visit to Peru today, Correa said Colombia
      violated international law with the raid, and called
      on Latin American nations to take ``concrete

      Stronger Military

      Colombia, with bigger and better-trained forces, has
      little to fear, at least militarily.

      ``This won't come to warfare for a very simple reason:
      Chavez doesn't like to pick a losing battle,'' Rangel
      said. ``Once the outrage over their border. ``For its
      part, Colombia has no interest in opening a second
      front'' in addition to its war against the rebels.

      Colombia's military is the most battle-tested, best-
      equipped and mobile force in the region, the result of
      four decades of warfare against the FARC. It has
      260,000 active troops, more than double the combined
      strength of Venezuela and Ecuador's 115,000 fighters,
      Rangel said.

      Colombia has spent about $38.6 billion on its military
      in the past decade, according to Rangel's Fundacion de
      Seguridad y Democracia research group. Since 2001, it
      has received $600 million in annual U.S. military aid
      and training.

      President George W. Bush telephoned Uribe today to
      applaud his efforts against the rebels. He urged the
      U.S. Congress to approve a free trade agreement with
      Colombia, saying it is vital to the South American
      country's security.

      OAS Meeting

      Venezuela has spent $4 billion building up its
      military since 2004. It now has improved naval and air
      strike capabilities. Ecuador's military last saw
      action in a short- lived border dispute with Peru in

      The criticism intensified as the Organization of
      American States said its General Assembly would hold
      an emergency session on the matter.

      Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Nicaragua and Peru condemned
      the incursion, and Correa severed diplomatic ties with
      Colombia yesterday.

      All of those countries except Nicaragua previously had
      declined to join Chavez's call to recognize the
      guerrillas -- branded as hostage-taking, drug-dealing
      terrorists by the U.S. and European Union -- as a
      legitimate army.

      Correa began today a four-day tour of Latin America to
      drum up support against Uribe.

      ``What you have here is sovereignty versus
      transnational terrorism,'' said Ray Walser, a Latin
      America policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation in
      Washington. ``Sovereignty is sacrosanct in Latin

      To contact the reporter on this story: Helen Murphy in
      Bogota at Hmurphy1@...; Joshua Goodman in
      Bogota at Jgoodman19@...
      Last Updated: March 4, 2008 18:22 EST
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