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Colombian Revolutionary Ricardo Palmera On Trial Again

By staff

Washington D.C. – The Bush administration is continuing legal action against Colombian revolutionary Ricardo Palmera. Another trial will start here Aug. 20. The National Committee to Free Ricardo Palmera is calling a protest at the D.C. Federal Court Building to demand Palmera’s immediate release. Professor Palmera’s supporters plan to picket the courts prior to jury selection.

Ricardo Palmera is a peace negotiator for Colombia’s rebels, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. He was kidnapped in Ecuador and extradited to the United States where he’s held in solitary confinement. Palmera is a political prisoner who should not be on trial in the U.S.

Professor Palmera’s first trial ended with a hung jury and Judge Hogan declared a mistrial. Afterwards, Judge Hogan was caught cheating along with U.S. Prosecutor Ken Kohl. Hogan was forced to step down.

Judge Royce Lambert replaced Hogan on the bench and presided over Palmera’s second trial. Palmera won a victory of sorts again when the jury could not agree on four counts against him, including ‘terrorism’ and kidnapping charges. However, the Bush administration got what it wanted because the jury found Palmera guilty of being part of a ‘conspiracy to kidnap’ referring to his membership in the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

The FARC is a 28,000-member rebel army that controls wide areas of Colombia, where it acts as the de facto government. The FARC plans to overthrow the corrupt U.S.-backed government, distribute land to the peasants, replace drug crops with food crops and end foreign corporate domination of the economy by empowering workers to run things.

“The U.S. government has no right to put Ricardo Palmera on trial, and the upcoming drug trial is ludicrous,” says Tom Burke of the National Committee to Free Ricardo Palmera. “Putting the FARC on trial for drug trafficking is the same as looking for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The evidence simply does not exist. The U.S. government can only insinuate or fabricate the evidence.”

Burke continues, “Palmera is a good man who has done nothing wrong. Ricardo Palmera continues to fight for social justice and the liberation of the Colombian people from his prison cell. President Bush is desperate because of growing public concern about lying, cheating and Colombian President Uribe’s ties to narco-traffickers and paramilitary death squads. The truth is all coming out now.”

Angela Denio, also of the National Committee, urges all progressive people to join the Aug. 20 protest, stating, “It will be interesting to hear Ricardo Palmera defend himself and sway the jury through his testimony again. The tragedy here is that paid professional liars and drug traffickers looking for lighter sentences will be given more time to testify than Professor Palmera. The Bush administration is criminalizing the fight for freedom and justice. People around the world are watching the travesty of Palmera’s trial. In his other trials, Palmera was not allowed witnesses, and the judge and prosecutor limited what Palmera could say. The only fair trial is no trial – we demand Professor Palmera’s immediate release.”

Picket line and press conference for Ricardo Palmera's freedom!

Monday, Aug. 20

8:30 a.m. picket line, 9:00 a.m. press conference

Federal Court Building (333 Constitution Ave. NW)

Washington, D.C.

For more info contact Tom Burke at 773-844-3612 or Mick Kelly at 612-715-3280.

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