The Supreme Court of the United States signed on Monday the judgment of an appeals court that ordered to pay a million dollar compensation to three contractors of this country that were kidnapped by the Farc in 2003.
Funds to pay compensation They will leave the assets of Samark López, a Venezuelan businessman with close ties to the Nicolás Maduro regime and who had been included in the Clinton List in 2017.
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In principle, the compensation authorized by the appeals court is US $ 53 million, but It could reach more than $ 300 million if Americans sue the businessman again.
The case dates back to 2012 when a Florida judge ordered Keith Stansell, Marc Gonsalves and Thomas Howe to pay US $ 318 million as compensation for the 5 years of captivity in Colombia at the hands of the Farc.
In principle, the funds should come from this guerrilla organization, which is also included in the Clinton List. But since the FARC has no assets in the US – or could not be detected – the contractors had nowhere to collect the compensation.
This changed in 2018 after the approval of la Counter-Terrorism Clarification Act, which allows victims of terrorist groups to claim funds previously seized by the US government. to these organizations and their collaborators.
That allowed the Americans, and following López’s fortune, which includes a frozen account with more than $ 269 million, two yachts, a plane and properties in Miami.
The theory of his lawyers is that López had a relationship with the Farc through Tareck el Aissami, former Vice President of Venezuela and today Minister of Petroleum.
Al Aissami, who also entered the sanctioned list in 2017, is considered by the US authorities to be a ‘drug lord’ for allegedly laundering income from drug trafficking that the FARC moves in Venezuelan territory.
López’s defense always claimed that the only link he had with the FARC was his friendship with Al Aissami. Still, a federal judge and then an appeals court (the eleventh circuit court) determined that his connection with Venezuelan drug trafficking was sufficient to make him part of the network and, therefore, subject to his funds being used to pay the affected.
López challenged the case before the Supreme Court of Justice. But the chief magistrate, Supreme Justice Clarence Thomas, declined to review the appeal. What in practice leaves in effect the ruling of the lower court that ordered the payment.
His defense raised a last emergency appeal before the also high magistrate Sonia Sotomayor. This Monday, like Thomas a month ago, Sotomayor denied the appeal and opened the door for the payment of compensation.
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The process of this case before the US courts is important because it creates a precedent for other victims of the Farc or the Eln can seek compensation in the US from funds seized from the Maduro regime and his collaborators.
SERGIO GÓMEZ MASERI
EL TIEMPO correspondent