Ecuador probes Correa's alleged links to FARC

18th May 2011, Comments 0 comments

Ecuadorian prosecutors are looking into a report by a top British think tank that said President Rafael Correa solicited and accepted funding from Colombian FARC rebels during his 2007 election campaign.

The chief prosecutor's office said on Tuesday that it had opened a "preliminary investigation" into the allegations, which stemmed from an analysis of computer files belonging to a slain FARC commander.

The report by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) earlier this month said the files show that the leftist FARC movement had widened its influence in the Andean region by backing Correa.

It also said Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez promised a $300 million war chest and territorial access to FARC guerrillas in 2007, allegations that were played down by Caracas.

The report was based on two years of analysis of computer files seized in March 2008 from the FARC's number two, Raul Reyes, who was killed by Colombian forces in a raid on a FARC camp in Ecuador.

Correa has adamantly denied the allegations.

"The report says that Correa solicited money from the FARC, which is a monumental lie, and that we received money from the FARC, another big lie," he said last week, adding that he had never met anyone from the rebel group.

The IISS report said Correa's election was the climax of years of efforts by the guerrilla group to infiltrate the country.

However, it said that although the FARC used Ecuadorian territory to "export drugs and import arms," it never enjoyed state support comparable to that provided in Venezuela.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) is Colombia's oldest and largest guerrilla force, believed to have some 8,000 members. The group has been at war with the government since its founding in 1964.

© 2011 AFP

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