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article imageFARC pays controversial tribute to ex-guerrilla leader

By AFP     Sep 22, 2017 in World

The remains of a feared ex-guerrilla chief killed in a bombing raid seven years ago were laid to rest in Colombia Friday, with tributes led by the new Common Alternative Revolutionary Force (FARC) political party.

Jorge "Mono Jojoy" Briceno -- real name Victor Julio Suarez Rojas -- died in an attack ordered by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos in 2010 against the rebel army then also known as the FARC.

Briceno, branded the "symbol of terror" by Santos, had 62 arrest warrants for murder, kidnapping and terrorism in Colombia. He was also wanted in the United States for drug trafficking and kidnapping.

The ceremony -- attended by around 200 people -- took place in south Bogota, where his remains were taken to a family grave.

The FARC party, launched by former guerrillas in early September following a peace agreement reached with the government last year, invited guests to "pay a tribute to the defender of the humble."

"In your name, I also ask for forgiveness from Colombia for the war. Never again will we allow ourselves to take the road of violence," Jorge Ernesto Suarez, Briceno's son, said during the event.

"We are not celebrating. We are commemorating the life of someone, initiating a road towards to reconciliation from several perspectives," Suarez told AFP.

But the event was criticized by politicians, with Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon calling it a "justification of crime."

While it was taking place, the UN's mission in Colombia was working to destroy the last arms handed over by 7,000 ex-FARC guerrillas as part of the peace agreement.

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