Colombia President weighs in on fight between high officials

Sandra Morelli and Eduardo Montealegre (Photo: Vanguardia)

Colombia’s Supreme Court and the country’s President have weighed in on an ongoing spat between the Prosecutor General, Eduardo Montealegre, and the Comptroller General, Sandra Morelli.

Colombia’s highest court announced on Thursday that it will be responsible for settling a dispute between the two high officials after Morelli accused Montealegre and his deputy prosecutor of showing “serious enmity” and bias against her during pending investigations, according to local media.

President Juan Manuel Santos got involved on Thursday night, tweeting: “I repeat courteously to the supervisory bodies – don’t bring personal differences into the institutional field.”

Colombia’s prosecutor opened an investigation into Morelli concerning the alleged wire-tapping and illegal surveillance of two journalists that Colombia’s fiscal watchdog had been investigating. The two journalists had been conducting controversial negotiations concerning new offices valued at nearly $1.4 million in Colombia’s capital, Bogota.

Montealegre proceeded to have his office search the comptroller’s personnel and office in order to find evidence of illegal surveillance.  No explicit evidence was found, according to newspaper El Tiempo.

But Morelli was still brought before Colombia’s Congressional Committee on Impeachment on Wednesday, during which the comptroller turned the tables on Montealegre, calling his actions “a smoke screen,” and claiming that the real reason for the search was to look for information about a different case that personally concerns the prosecutor.

The case in question revolves around the finances of a Colombian health care co-op called Saludcoop EPS.  Before becoming the Prosecutor General, Montealegre was the health co-op’s lawyer and received “fees near $2 million,” according to the comptroller.

“[He is using this investigation against me] to interfere with the process of fiscal responsibility…because he had or has personal interest in this case,” asserted Morelli in front of the Committee on Impeachment.

Morelli formally challenged the prosecutor’s investigations against her, saying that Montealegre and his deputy prosecutor should be more “impartial and objective.”

The Supreme Court will be tasked with unravelling this “unprecedented” dispute between two of Colombia’s most powerful officials, according to El Tiempo.

Constitutionalist Juan Manuel Charry told media outlet Vanguardia that it will now be the President’s job to mediate between the two, and that, while unprecedented, this kind of argument should come as no surprise.

“There is no harmony between the different state bodies because they have different conceptions of their own functions and there is no one rule on the conflict,” said Charry.


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