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Former Investigator of Colombia’s Truth Commission Forced Into Exile

A former investigator of the Truth Commission has fled Colombia after two robberies and escalating death threats.

According to the investigator, Edgar Celis, the prosecution is not interested in investigate the crimes he suffered after interviewing “Otoniel,” the extradited former paramilitary leader.

Celis’ problems began in February last year, immediately after his interview with the former AGC boss at the police intelligence agency DIJIN in the capital Bogota.

Since then, an unknown intruder stole the recording equipment and the confidential Otoniel recordings from the investigators’ home.

Celis additionally received e-mails and phone calls from a person who claimed to be hired to assassinate the former Truth Commission investigator.

The phone calls stopped after an armed robbery in the city of Santa Marta that cost Celis both his private and his work phone.

The former investigator reported all three crimes with the prosecution, which has yet to make significant progress in the investigations.

According to Celis, police initially refused to look for fingerprints to investigate the home invasion because the investigator had opened a window.

The prosecution subsequently concluded that the robbery was carried out by a homeless person, according to Celis.

This presumed homeless person only stole equipment and documents related to the Truth Commission’s investigations of Colombia’s armed conflict, Celis told newspaper El Espectador.

Alberto Acevedo, national director of the CTI, arrived and recommended that I check the library to see if anything was missing. There I realized that the supposed “homeless person” had taken several books related to the armed conflict. I told Director Acevedo about it and told him that is why I did not believe in the prosecution’s hypothesis… In a meeting we had on April 2, a delegate of that entity maintained that hypothesis and said that they had a verbal portrait of the homeless person and videos from security cameras. In those videos, you can see how the person leaving my apartment gets into a cab that was waiting for him. After denouncing all this in the media, I began to receive threats by phone.

Former Truth Commissioner investigator Andres Celis

The investigation into the armed robbery of Celis’ cell phones was archived because the victim didn’t answer the phone he had reported stolen.

In the two times I have spoken to the person threatening me, he told me that he was hired to kill me and was asking me for more money to prevent it. On both occasions he mentioned to me that I have very valuable information and that is why they want to kill me. Commissioner Valencia and I interviewed many other people, such as ex-combatants or former State agents, who gave very important information.

Former Truth Commissioner investigator Andres Celis

The prosecution requested access to Celis’ e-mails in order to investigate the death threats, which the investigator has refused to give.

“I don’t trust the prosecution and I don’t believe they have the will to investigate,” the investigator told El Espectador.

Celis was able to obtain asylum in an unidentified foreign country because of the Truth Commission’s contacts in the community of exiled victims of the armed conflict.

Source : Colombia Reports