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Ricardo Palmera’s Sentencing Postponed for a Second Time

By Angela Denio

Protesters outside Fedearl courthoust in D.C.

Washington, D.C. – The National Committee to Free Ricardo Palmera, along with students and other activists from around the country protested here Dec. 3 against the sentencing of Colombian revolutionary Ricardo Palmera. Ricardo Palmera was convinced of ‘conspiracy to kidnap’ in July. The other false charges the government attempted to pin on him met with a hung jury.

This conviction came after Professor Palmera’s first trial was thrown out when the jury refused to find him guilty and after the judge in the case, Judge Kenneth Hogan, was forced to step down after being caught cheating with the prosecution’s lawyers. The sentencing, originally scheduled to take place on Nov. 20, was postponed until Dec. 3 with no reasoning given for the postponement.

At the picket and press conference before the hearing members of the Colombian Action Network, Students for a Democratic Society, Fight Imperialism, Stand Together and the National Committee to Free Ricardo Palmera blasted plans to sentence Palmera.

“This man being sentenced today has done nothing wrong,” said Jeremy Miller, a member of Students for Democratic Society. “He his being punished simply for being a member of an organization fighting back against the oppression in his country.”

Many of the protesters spoke to why they had traveled so far to stand in solidarity with Professor Palmera. “Palmera is a hero, not just for the Colombian people but for all people. He fights for the freedom and sovereignty of the Colombian masses, which is in the interest of all oppressed people. We must support the freedom of Colombian people if we ever wish to attain our own freedom,” said Tyneshia Bowen of Fight Imperialism, Stand Together.

Once inside the courtroom the public was in for a surprise, as the sentencing was again postponed – this time for almost two months. The extension was granted to the prosecution owing to their desire to respond to a 30-plus page statement written by Professor Palmera himself, which cited legal reasons for his immediate release. The prosecution has expressed their intention to demand 60 years in prison for Professor Palmera, while the defense has said that Professor Palmera deserves time served.

When court ended, protesters raised their fists in solitary with Ricardo Palmera, who in turn raised his fist into the air.

“We do not believe that Palmera should be sentenced at all and are very happy about the extension of time for the sentencing,” said Mick Kelly of the National Committee to Free Ricardo Palmera. “He should be released at once and we urge all progressive people to join us in this effort.” In interviews with the Colombia’s main radio and TV stations, Kelly praised both Palmera and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

The National Committee has pledged to return to the Washington D.C. Federal Court House Jan. 28, the date now scheduled for Professor Palmera’s sentencing.

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