Spain has agreed to extradite to Colombia a former FARC rebel accused of carrying out 300 forced abortions on women fighters, some of them underage. Hector Arboleda Albeidis Buitrago, who has Spanish nationality, was detained in Madrid in December 2015.
He will face trial in Colombia for murder, attempted murder and abortion without consent. Arboleda Buitrago had been working as a nurse with no medical training, Colombian prosecutors say.
Last Friday, Spanish authorities gave the green light to a Colombian justice minister’s request and agreed to hand him over to a court in Bogota. His arrest in 2015 formed part of an investigation relating to 150 cases involving former FARC fighters who said they had been forced to terminate their pregnancies.
Known as “The Nurse”, Arboleda Buitrago is accused of taking part in most of those abortions. Colombian authorities said the procedures were carried out in filthy conditions, with no medication, on women who were often in their final months of pregnancy.
They added that the women came from indigenous communities and should have been protected during their pregnancies and should have been relieved of their duties as FARC officers.
Female rebels were compelled to have abortions so as not to undermine their fighting ability, although the Marxist rebels have denied this in the past, saying that contraception was made available.
In 2015 one female rebel in Bogota said that she had been forced to have five abortions. She said that women in the organization were expected to fight, and those who were allowed to have babies considered themselves lucky.
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) are Colombia’s largest rebel group. They were founded in 1964 as the armed wing of the Communist Party and follow a Marxist-Leninist ideology. Their main founders were small farmers and land workers who had banded together to fight against the staggering levels of inequality in Colombia at the time.
In November 2016, the Colombian government and the FARC rebel group announced a second peace agreement after an initial deal was rejected. The conflict up to this point had lasted more than five decades and resulted in about 260,000 deaths, with millions of people displaced.