(AFP) An indigenous court convicted seven FARC guerrillas of murdering two leaders of the Nasa tribe in western Colombia on Sunday, sentencing them to between 40 and 60 years in jail and 20 lashes.
The harshest sentence — 60 years prison time — was handed down to Carlos Ivan Silva, who confessed to killing two native leaders on Wednesday.
The victims were removing billboards praising the late leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, Guillermo Leon Saenz, also known as Alfonso Cano, when they were murdered.
Four other defendants were sentenced to 40 years each for having “fired indiscriminately on other members of the community” alongside Silva, said the leader of the Northern Cauca indigenous councils association, Gabriel Pavi.
Two teenagers also arrested were sentenced to 20 lashes and will be held at a rehabilitation center until age 18, at which point a new assembly will reconsider their cases.
The verdicts and sentences were determined after four hours of debate by an assembly of some 3,000 members from the indigenous reserve in the Cauca province.
When crimes are committed in aboriginal territory, the punishment for the accused is decided by the community and not the ordinary justice system.
Pavi had said Friday the guerrillas were captured “in uniform and with rifles” and that “all are indigenous.”
In Colombia, indigenous authorities have jurisdiction over their own territory, unless it contravenes the constitution or the laws of the country.
Colombia’s indigenous population reached 1.4 million in 2005, according to the latest official figures, out of a total population of 48.3 million.