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Amnesty no longer an option for Tanja, says Colombia

Tanja Nijmeijer has lost her chance to be granted amnesty, "She is a terrorist who has committed serious crimes," Francisco José Lloreda, the Colombian ambassador to the Netherlands, told Radio Netherlands Worldwide after seeing new video material of the Dutch FARC guerrilla fighter.

Ambassador Lloreda had told RNW before that Nijmeijer was a criminal but, nevertheless, the Colombian government was willing to offer her a way out. Colombia's Vice President Angelino Garzón said last month that she would have nothing to fear if she left the FARC voluntarily. That amnesty offer has now been withdrawn.

Terrorism
After seeing the latest video footage of Tanja, the Colombian ambassador has lost all sympathy for her.

"She confesses to planting bombs in cities and she glorifies terrorism. She is unmoved by the plight of the victims and admits that she herself is a terrorist. She is trying to present a distorted image of the FARC. The fact that she is a foreigner makes no difference: if Tanja is arrested, she will have to answer to the people of Colombia for her crimes and the pain she has caused."

Amnesty arrangement

Dutch specialist in international criminal law Geert-Jan Knoops stresses that the offer of amnesty could have been withdrawn at any time by the Colombian courts.

"An amnesty offer can be withdrawn if certain crimes are so serious that they should be prosecuted anyway. This is not only the case in Argentina and Chile, but also in other countries. "

Voluntary confession
According to Mr Knoops, it's impossible to say how significant Nijmeijer's confession is. "Tanya is not necessarily liable because of her statement that she has planted bombs for the FARC." If it appears that she was coerced into issuing that statement, then the confession has no value.

If it is established that the statement was made voluntarily, then the overall story must still be considered, says Mr Knoops. First, it must be determined whether Tanja's statements are consistent with the objective facts, as he explains: "That means, for example, in this case, there must be a specification of what buses and companies were attacked. Information that the suspect has given must not already be in the public domain."

Personal responsibility
The Dutch government's position remains unchanged. The Hague says she has freely chosen the life she is leading, she is responsible for her own actions and must therefore accept the consequences.

Ultimately, the Colombian authorities must determine her guilt or innocence, says the foreign affairs ministry: "It is a general principle of international law that a crime committed in the Netherlands is prosecuted in the Netherlands. A crime that was committed in Colombia is prosecuted in Colombia".

If Tanja Nijmeijer is arrested, she will have the right to consular assistance, just like every other Dutch citizen.

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This article is part of the RNW archive. RNW is the former Radio Netherlands Worldwide or Wereldomroep, which was founded as the Dutch international public broadcaster in 1947. In 2011 Dutch government’s decided to cut funding and shift RNW in 2013 from the ministry of Education, Culture and Science to the ministry of Foreign Affairs. More information about RNW’s current activities can be found at http://www.rnw.org/about-rnw