Editorial, EL ESPECTADOR, APRIL 10, 2024

(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

The decision by the Attorney General’s Office in the case against former President Álvaro Uribe Vélez corrects a great contradiction that this country has experienced in recent years. In spite of the fact that not only the Supreme Court of Justice, but also five other judges of this nation have found that the case deserves a better analysis of the available evidence, the prosecutors under the direction of Francisco Barbosa have insisted on petitioning for the dismissal of the case.

Now, with the presentation of written charges, a case of national importance can go forward, which does not mean that the former President loses his presumption of innocence and his right to due process. Institutions are strengthened when they demonstrate transparency in situations of crisis like this one.

This case has been convulsing this country ever since 2018, when the Supreme Court of Justice held that there were suspicions about questionable payments to witnesses, with the objective of damaging the reputation of Senator Iván Cepeda, now a member of the Historic Pact Party. In 2020, when the high court ordered the arrest of former President Uribe, the response of the Democratic Center Party was to request a constitutional convention (the history of Colombia is circular, as is well known) to reform the legal system, while members of the party talked of political persecution. The former President resigned from Congress and lost his privileged status; thus his case was taken over by the Attorney General’s Office. Then began a series of juridical gimmicks that have damaged the legitimacy of the investigating agency. Three times its prosecutors requested that the case be dismissed, and all three times, the judges in charge found that those prosecutors had not done their work well, that they had not evaluated the evidence sufficiently, and that it would be necessary to prepare and submit a new presentation to the courts. From there we arrive at the criminal complaint that was released yesterday.

According to the Attorney General’s Office, “this determination has considered new elements of evidence, such as the testimony of Deyanira Gómez and Juan Guillermo Monsalve.” Diego Cadena is charged with the same actions. He was the former President’s attorney at that time. It’s not, as some political leaders are trying to show, a whim imposed from the office of the current President. The evidence in the case has pointed for years at the need for a more exhaustive investigation.

There are some complicated weeks ahead, because a polarized country will not view these events with the prudence that they require. The arrival of the new Attorney General, Luz Adriana Camargo, is being used as the sign of a change that could enable a persecution. In the face of that, the only thing the legal system can do is what it’s now doing: guaranteeing due process and conducting the hearings transparently. In a case this important, the country needs to know what happened.

Talking about our past editorials, former President Uribe has said that the position of EL ESPECTADOR is to favor his conviction. That’s not the case. We repeat that the presumption of innocence is an essential principle of the Rule of Law, and we trust that it will continue to be respected. The only thing we ask is respect for institutions and coherence in the actions by the authorities. The evidence in the record merits being evaluated at a trial, whatever the result. We hope that’s what will happen in this case.

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