Editorial, EL ESPECTADOR, January 15, 2024

(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

The shameful behavior of the Office of the Attorney General of Colombia in the case against ex-President Uribe is continuing. On the last day of the time allowed by the Superior Tribunal of Bogotá to file formal charges or to file a motion to dismiss the case, the assigned prosecutor, Andrés Palencia Fajardo, resigned, alleging personal reasons. To put the seal on things, the new prosecutor assigned by the Attorney General, Víctor Salcedo, had to recuse himself, because he had written an opinion column demonstrating his obvious bias about the case against the ex-President.

Thus, the next person that receives the file will be the fifth prosecutor to be assigned, delaying still more the action that is necessary, and denying the country an important legal decision that looked as if it was on the way, and that’s not all, looked as if it was headed for the expiration of the statute of limitations.

Again and again, the prosecutors assigned to the Uribe case have been reprimanded by the judges. Even though they have already on several occasions asked for the case against the ex-President to be dismissed, supposedly for lack of evidence, the judges have denied those requests. The judges explain their reasoning, not without some astonishment, stating that the Attorney General’s Office has acted negligently, and appears to have no desire to investigate the serious indications that exist in this file in an adequate manner. The judges have suggested an incoherence in our system: if the Supreme Court of Justice believed that there was sufficient material evidence to issue a warrant for the arrest of the ex-President, why haven’t the prosecutors done a thorough evaluation of all the arguments? Altogether, a rotten job. And it’s not that the final decision has to be against the ex-President, it’s that even a motion to dismiss has to be well supported, and the Attorney General’s Office has not done that.

There are those that have accused the Attorney General’s Office of taking no interest in this case, and what happened with the most recent of the prosecutors doesn’t help them to refute that lack of confidence. Why wait until the last day before the expiration of the allotted time to resign your position? Why, in addition, was the internal organization of the Attorney General’s Office so sluggish in assigning a replacement? A case as important for the country as this one can’t be submerged in adjournments, and much less can it allow itself to get close to the expiration of the statute of limitations. It’s incredible that we have been in this argument since 2018 and we don’t seem to be close to a definitive decision.

This isn’t to deny the presumption of innocence to ex-President Uribe, we repeat that, but rather to point out the importance for this country of having institutions that act transparently and efficiently. A case that shook up all of Colombia, that led the highest courts to make joint pronouncements, and that has such implications for the Rule of Law cannot dilute that by the negligence and slothfulness of the Attorney General’s Office. If the decision is to move to dismiss the case again, the prosecutors will have to convince the judges with their arguments, and, while they’re at it, the whole country. If, on the other hand, they decide to file criminal charges, they will also have to show clear reasons. They have taken far too long on a matter that needs answers.

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